Madeleine McCann: sex attack suspect 'dead', say Portuguese

Madeleine McCann

Claim comes as tensions grow between UK and Portuguese police over handling of the case

LAST UPDATED AT 11:17 ON Fri 21 Mar 2014

THE suspected sex attacker who British detectives fear might have abducted Madeleine McCann died five years ago, according to a Portuguese police insider.

Scotland Yard officers announced earlier this week that they were looking for a man suspected of sexually assaulting five young British girls on holiday in the Algarve in the years before Madeleine disappeared from Praia da Luz in 2007.

But a Portuguese police source has since told The Guardian that the suspect was likely to have been Euclides Monteiro, a convicted burglar and drug addict who they have regarded as the chief suspect in the Madeleine case for some time. Monteiro's name emerged as a suspect in November, although police have come to "no definitive conclusions" about his culpability.

Monteiro, who died aged 40 in a tractor accident in 2009, was arrested for some of the Algarve sex attacks but police had insufficient evidence to charge him. He was sacked by the Ocean Club, where Madeleine was staying, in 2006 and phone records placed him near the apartments at the time she vanished.

However, The Times says there are signs that the Met Police might not agree with their Portuguese counterparts.

As well as the attacks on five girls before 2006, Scotland Yard believe their suspect might also have carried out eight other break-ins between 2004 and 2010 – and that means that some of the forced entries occurred after Monteiro died.

The description of the suspect as "tanned" also appears to rule out Monteiro, who was a black African, originally from Cape Verde.

The claim comes amid growing tensions between police in the two countries. The Portuguese authorities are said to be angry at the way British officers, in a press briefing in London this week, presented information about the intruder and expressed "frustration" that legal processes were slowing down the investigation.

David Cameron has even offered to make "further representations" with the Portuguese government to improve co-operation between the two countries.

The Metropolitan Police has said it is "not prepared to discuss" the differences between its investigation and the Portuguese operation.

Madeleine McCann: why did paedophile lead take so long?

20 March

THE latest dramatic breakthrough in the Madeleine McCann case – the hunt for a man who allegedly targeted British children in the Algarve – has left critics wondering why the new lead took seven years to emerge.

Scotland Yard detectives announced yesterday that they were looking for a “tanned, dark-haired man” suspected of sexually assaulting five young British girls on holiday in the Algarve in the years before Madeleine disappeared. The suspect had “an unhealthy interest in young white female children”, they said.

The “significant breakthrough” poses difficult questions for the Portuguese police, who appear to have overlooked the potentially vital lead.

Peter Kirkham, a former Metropolitan Police detective, says he finds it “quite extraordinary” that potential links were not made previously. Writing in the Daily Mirror, he says: “Any competent investigation should have identified the potential link with Madeleine’s disappearance at the outset.”

With seven years passing since Madeleine’s disappearance in May 2007, Kirkham warns that police could now face difficulties in securing potential evidence.

In The Guardian, Sandra Laville, agrees that the delay will make it much harder to find the truth, but “not impossible”.

Identifying a potentially linked series of sex attacks has been "the key to solving similarly high-profile cases of sexually motivated crimes in the past", she says. “It has always been the belief of seasoned detectives that any inquiry into what happened to Madeleine should have examined in detail the presence of known sex offenders in the area, something that was not done with any rigour by the Portuguese.”

British police still face “huge obstacles”, says Laville. They still have to go through the lengthy process of making formal written applications for assistance from the Portuguese in order for the inquiries to be carried out, she explains, with senior Met officers openly expressing their frustration.

The Scotland Yard investigation – Operation Grange – has been described as a “hugely complex investigation” and is thought to have cost several million pounds since it was set up in 2011, says Sean O’Neill in The Times.

Officers spent more than a year collecting and reviewing a “huge volume” of material from the Portuguese police, judicial authorities, private detectives and other police forces, and have taken more than 500 witness statements.

The Yard cannot rectify the mistakes made in the initial inquiry, says Padraic Flanagan in the Daily Telegraph, but he says that Operation Grange, staffed by a team of Scotland Yard's “finest detectives”, offers the “best opportunity to find out what happened to Madeleine”.

Madeleine McCann: police in hunt for Algarve sex attacker

19 March

POLICE investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are looking for a man suspected of sexually assaulting five young British girls on holiday in the Algarve. 

The "tanned, dark-haired man" is suspected of breaking into holiday homes alone and attacking the girls, mostly aged between seven and ten years old, while they lay in their beds, between 2004 and 2006. On one occasion he assaulted two girls in the same villa, reports the Evening Standard.

Madeleine vanished from an apartment in the Praia da Luz resort in the Algarve in May 2007.

The suspect is also believed to have been involved in eight other known break-ins to properties where British families were staying between 2004 and 2010.

Detectives said that these break-ins had similarities, including no signs of forced entry, nothing being taken and the intruder appearing between 2am and 5am. Of the 12 cases, two occurred in Praia de Luz, four in the holiday resort of Carvoeiro and six in the Vale da Parra and Praia da Gale districts west of Albufeira.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who is leading Scotland Yard's investigation into Madeleine's disappearance, said police believe the man has "an unhealthy interest in young white female children".

Detectives suspect there could be more cases of similar crimes where victims' families did not bother to report them to police. They have released an image of a distinctive burgundy long-sleeved T-shirt believed to have been worn by the man, and urged any members of the public with information to come forward.

Redwood said his team currently has 38 people classed as "persons of interest" to the inquiry and are also sifting through details of 530 known sex offenders who are yet to account for their whereabouts on the night Madeleine vanished. Of those, 59 are classed as high priority, and some are British.

Madeleine was three when she disappeared from her holiday apartment as her parents Kate and Gerry dined at a nearby tapas restaurant with friends.

Madeleine McCann: Police want to raid three suspects' homes

31 January

BRITISH police hunting for Madeleine McCann want to raid the homes of three suspects in Portugal and examine their bank accounts, the Daily Mirror says. 

McCann's parents are reportedly "on tenterhooks" as the investigation into their daughter's disappearance gathers momentum. Officers from Scotland Yard are in the Algarve and want to interview the three men who were all working in the holiday complex where Madeleine was staying with her family when she went missing in May 2007.

The Mirror says the officers want to check the men's bank accounts to see if any large sums of money were deposited in them – "which could indicate payment for a crime".

The men would have known the layout of the Ocean Club complex at Praia da Luz and "been aware of the best escape routes for anyone taking a child", the paper says. It would also have been possible for them to study the movements of Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry, on the night their daughter vanished as they ate tapas with friends near their apartment.

Police believe the men were involved in a string of burglaries in the area in the weeks before Madeleine disappeared. One of the properties that was broken into is owned by a former British expat. It is in the same block as the apartment the McCanns rented.

The man, who is in his 50s, told the Mirror: "They'd taken two mobile phones, a camera and some cash. There was no sign of forced entry.

"I was convinced they had a key to get inside. I spoke to my neighbours, many of them expats, and I'd say around 90 per cent of them had experienced the same thing... valuable items going missing out of their apartments."

The man, who does not want to be named, was interviewed 18 months ago by Scotland Yard detectives. That implies that that officers have "long suspected burglars could be responsible for Madeleine's kidnap", the Mirror says.

Madeleine McCann: UK police fly to Algarve 'to make arrests'

29 January 

THE PARENTS of missing toddler Madeleine McCann are said to be on "tenterhooks" after Scotland Yard detectives arrived in Portugal to arrest three suspects.

It is believed to be the first time UK and Portuguese officers have met since the Metropolitan Police sent a formal request to the Polícia Judiciária for access to "three prime suspects".

Det Chief Insp Andy Redwood, who is leading the UK hunt for Madeleine, arrived at police headquarters in Faro, Algarve just after 10am on Tuesday clutching two bulging box files and accompanied by three colleagues.

The London-based officers reportedly held a secret four-hour meeting with prosecutors and senior Portuguese officers, including Luís Mota Carmo, the director of the Polícia Judiciária, who heads a team of six detectives carrying out work on behalf of Scotland Yard.

The discussions are believed to have centred on getting local officials to sanction the arrests and subsequent questioning.

Kate and Gerry McCann are being kept "fully informed" of events following the dramatic breakthrough, reports the Daily Mirror.

"Clearly the fact that the police are out there is significant," one source told the newspaper. "Kate and Gerry will now be on tenterhooks as they wait for any potential developments. The Met are being very pro-active and this is good news in the search for Madeleine and her abductor."

However, the source added that it "remains to be seen" whether the Portuguese will co-operate. "It is a very sensitive issue with differences they have had. Kate and Gerry don't want to build up their hopes but they realise it could be a significant new lead," they said.

The breakthrough follows a cold-case UK review involving a painstaking trawl through mobile phone data. This helped pinpoint three men, believed to be a burglary gang, who are said to have been very close to the scene when three-year-old Madeleine was snatched from her family's holiday apartment at the resort of Praia da Luz in May 2007.

Madeleine McCann: Letter paves way to Met's first arrests

24 January

THE first arrests in the Madeleine McCann case are a step closer after Portuguese police acknowledged they had received a formal request from Scotland Yard for access to "three prime suspects". 

Portugal's Attorney General's office told the Daily Mirror it had received an International Letter of Request sent by British police investigating the toddler's disappearance. The document is a "significant development" according to a source close to the girl's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann.

The Met are anxious to question three burglars who "carried out raids" in the Portuguese holiday resort where the McCann family were staying at the time of their daughter's disappearance. They want to speak to the men because phone records show they made "numerous calls to each other" in the hours after Madeleine vanished in 2007.

The Mirror says the letter will now be forwarded to a court in the Algarve resort of Portimao tasked with investigating the newly-reopened case in Portugal. Authorities in Portugal were not able to say when the letter would be forwarded or how long it would take to put the request into action.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who is leading the Met operation, has said he continues to believe Madeleine is still alive.

Madeleine McCann: Met prepares to make first arrests

13 January 

BRITISH police investigating the disappearance of toddler Madeleine McCann are preparing to make their first arrests, the Daily Mirror reports. 

The Met wants to question three burglars who "carried out raids" in the Portuguese holiday resort where the McCann family were staying at the time of their daughter's disappearance. Officers were preparing to fly to the Algarve last night to arrest them.

They want to speak to the men, the Mirror says, because phone records show they made "numerous calls to each other" in the hours after Madeleine vanished in 2007. The Crown Prosecution Service has sent an International Letter of Request to Portuguese police seeking permission to arrest the trio.

A spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann told the Mirror: "This letter is a significant development. It is necessary for British police to request the Portuguese authorities allow them to operate on their turf.

"It means they have the intention of arresting and interviewing X, Y or Z".

The spokesman added it "remains to be seen" whether the Portuguese police – who have had a sometimes fractious relationship with their British counterparts – will co-operate.

The Mirror points out that the arrests – if they are made – will be the first since the force set up Operation Grange in 2011 to review the kidnapping.

Days before the toddler's disappearance, the burglars raided another apartment in Praia da Luz, disturbing a child. The infant's parents interrupted the intruders, who fled.

A source close to the investigation told the Mirror: "Portuguese police attached no significance to the burglary at the time. British officers regard this as an oversight."

Madeleine McCann: suspect's 'suspicious behaviour with children'   

1 November 

A POLICE profile of a man suspected of snatching Madeleine McCann from her parents' holiday apartment has exposed his "violent past" and "suspicious behaviour with children", a Portuguese newspaper has said.

The profile has "heightened" police suspicions about the 40-year-old man who was killed in a tractor accident in 2009, Correio da Manhã reports.

The man has emerged as the "main suspect" after an examination of mobile phone records revealed he was near the McCanns' holiday apartment in Praia da Luz when Madeleine disappeared on 3 May 2007. Correio da Manha says he may have taken the toddler in revenge for being sacked from the Algarve holiday complex.

The paper now says there is speculation that the man may have killed the girl after "seeing the huge backlash" the crime generated. It adds that he was convicted of theft in 1996 and had a past “marked by some episodes of violence”. However, his family insists he was innocent.

The apartment where the McCanns were staying is a 15-minute drive from the town of Lagos where the suspect was living at the time. Police have already spoken to the man's widow.

Correio da Manha claims the identification of the suspect is "the strongest new lead presented to state prosecutors" and was "responsible for the reopening of the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance".

The man was not included on the list of employees handed over to Portuguese police in 2007 because at the time of the toddler's disappearance he was no longer working for the company.

The paper says the man parted ways with the Ocean Club in "fractious" circumstances and added: "The motives that could have caused the ex-employee to kidnap the youngster are still being investigated."

Portuguese police have declined to comment on the Correio da Manha report.

Madeleine McCann: police in Portugal re-open case 24/10/13

PORTUGUESE police are reportedly re-opening the investigation into Madeleine McCann's disappearance, five years after they gave up their search for the toddler.

The case was dropped in 2008, a year after she went missing during a family holiday in the resort of Praia da Luz, but British detectives have since announced a series of new leads after a two-year review of the original investigation.

A team of officers from the Policia Judiciaria, based in Porto, have been working alongside the Scotland Yard team. According to BBC News, the Portuguese police have now re-launched the case.

Scotland Yard has received more than 2,400 calls and emails since an appeal was broadcast on programmes in several countries, including BBC's Crimewatch.

The Metropolitan Police officers have analysed phone records, identified 41 'persons of interest', including 12 Britons who were in Portugal at the time, and released two e-fit images of a man seen near the scene on the night the toddler was snatched. They have spoken of a possible breakthrough and believe Madeleine's abduction may have been planned.

A spokesman for the McCanns said this publicity, along with the recent discovery of an abducted girl found living with a Roma family in Greece, might have prompted a rethink from Portuguese police.

Ahead of the announcement, the spokesman said the McCanns "did not want to get their hopes up too much" but a re-opening of the case would be "a significant development and an important step forward".

The family has had a turbulent relationship with the Portuguese police, who initially blamed them for their daughter's disappearance.

Goncalo Amaral, head of the regional Policia Judiciaria during the initial investigation, was removed from the case and his post in October 2007 after criticising British police in a Portuguese newspaper interview. The McCanns are currently suing him for libel over a book he published in July 2008 about the case.

Madeleine McCann Q&A: was it a 'pre-planned abduction'? 15/10/13

MISSING toddler Madeleine McCann might have been taken in a "pre-planned abduction", police revealed on BBC Crimewatch last night. The three-year-old disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz on 3 May 2007. Scotland Yard detectives believe they have made "massive steps forward" in the case, which they began reviewing two years ago after the Portuguese authorities dropped the investigation in 2008.

Here are the latest developments...

What have police discovered? Detectives believe the timeline surrounding Madeleine's disappearance has changed significantly. For years it was thought Madeleine was taken at about 9.15pm from the family's apartment in the Ocean Club complex after a witness saw a man carrying a young girl in pink pyjamas at that time. But Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who is heading the £5m investigation, says this was almost certainly an innocent British holiday-maker collecting his two-year-old daughter from a nearby crèche. This revelation has turned the inquiry on its head and opened up possibilities that were all but ruled out by previous investigators.

Have the police identified any suspects? Detectives yesterday released two e-fits of a man who was seen with a blonde-haired child of three or four, possibly wearing pyjamas, heading away from the McCanns' holiday apartment at around 10pm on the night Madeleine went missing. Police say he could be Madeleine's abductor or there could be an innocent explanation but they need to speak to him to find out. The suspect is described as white, aged between 20 and 40, with short brown hair, of medium build, medium height and clean shaven. BBC Home Affairs correspondent Danny Shaw says the importance detectives have put on tracking the man down suggests they may have other information about him they have not shared – possibly phone records could hold the key.

What do police think happened? Police are working on a number of theories. One is that Madeleine was taken in a "pre-planned abduction". A number of men were seen "lurking suspiciously" near the McCanns' apartment block on the day the toddler vanished. Police say they might have been carrying out reconnaissance. Another possible scenario was that Madeleine had disturbed a burglary, a crime that had increased four-fold in the area between January and May 2007. Police are also looking at possible bogus charity collectors operating in the area at the time.

Why has it taken so long for these details to emerge? It is only now, after British detectives cross-referenced tens of thousands of documents gathered by Portuguese detectives, private investigators and the mobile phone data from the resort, that the significance of certain witness statements has been fully understood. The original theory that Madeleine was taken at 9.15pm may also have led Portuguese authorities to rule out details that now appear to be potentially significant.

What was shown on BBC Crimewatch last night? The programme showed a 25-minute reconstruction of the events leading up to and surrounding Madeleine's disappearance and broadcast e-fits of a number of men they wish to find. Madeleine's parents also made a live appeal in the studio. Police say they had an "overwhelming response" to the programme and officers would be following up lines of inquiry provided by more than 300 phone calls and 170 emails. Among them were people who were at the resort at the time and two independent callers who offered the same name for the new suspect shown on the e-fit picture. The appeal will also be broadcast in the Netherlands and in Germany.

Madeleine McCann e-fit Q&A: what has police probe found? 14/10/13

BRITISH police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann believe they have made "massive steps forward" in the case. The three-year-old disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz on 3 May 2007. While Portuguese authorities dropped their investigation into the case in 2008, Scotland Yard started a review in May 2011. Here are the latest developments... 

What have police discovered? Detectives believe the timeline surrounding Madeleine's disappearance has changed significantly. For years it was thought Madeleine was taken at about 9.15pm from the family's apartment in the Ocean Club complex, but Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who is heading the £5m investigation, said: "Our work to date has significantly changed the timeline and the accepted version of events that has been in the public domain to date." Police are yet to give any further details but say the discovery is "absolutely key" and gives "new significance" to sightings and movements of people in the area on that night.

Have the police identified any suspects? The police team has identified 41 "persons of interest", 15 of whom are British, including carers, residents and workers at the resort. But there is one man that they are particularly keen to find. He was seen inside the Ocean Club complex by two witnesses on the night Madeleine went missing. Today police have released two e-fits from those descriptions. The suspect is described as white, aged between 20 and 40, with short brown hair, of medium build, medium height and clean shaven.

Why has it taken so long for these details to emerge? The descriptions of the suspect were given to the Portuguese police after Madeleine disappeared. It is only now, after British detectives cross-referenced tens of thousands of documents gathered by Portuguese detectives, private investigators and the mobile phone data from the resort, that the significance of the witness statements has been fully understood. Despite numerous appeals for information over the years, the man has not come forward to talk to investigators in Portugal or Britain.

Wasn't a man arrested this week? According to the Sunday Mirror, a man was arrested by Greater Manchester Police after he boasted about being "introduced" to Madeleine on a Mediterranean island over the summer. He allegedly bragged about the meeting at a party in August to a barrister, who subsequently contacted the police. But, according to the Manchester Evening News, police have "categorically" denied any link between the arrest and the Madeleine investigation.

What will be shown on BBC Crimewatch tonight? Police have been working with Crimewatch to build a 25-minute reconstruction of the events leading up to and surrounding Madeleine's disappearance - said to be the "the most detailed reconstruction" in the case so far. The programme will also broadcast e-fits of a number of suspects police are trying to find. Madeleine's parents will also make a live appeal in the studio. The appeal, which will be shown in the UK on BBC One at 9pm, will also be broadcast in the Netherlands and Germany.

Madeleine McCann: phone probe 'could be key' to case 04/10/13

THE Scotland Yard detective leading the search for Madeleine McCann says the data from thousands of mobile phones "could be" the key to solving the crime.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said his officers were conducting the first detailed trawl through mobile phone data from handsets used by people in the Algarve village of Praia de Luz where the British girl disappeared in 2007.

The investigation has identified 41 "persons of interest", says the Daily Telegraph. They include 15 British nationals, at least three of them newly identified since July.

Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, will make a new appeal for help on the BBC's Crimewatch programme on 14 October. The broadcast will be based on "fresh, substantive" information, the BBC reports. 

Detectives hope the "mountain" of phone data will help identify the owners of thousands of handsets and build up a picture of what they were doing in the Algarve village at the time of the three-year-old's  disappearance. It is an enormous task. More than 3,000 people live in Praia de Luz and its population is swollen each year by holidaymakers and seasonal workers from around the world.

Scotland Yard is being assisted in its efforts to trace the owners of the phones by officers in 30 countries, most of them in Europe.

Redwood made it clear the phone data probe is "not just a general trawl". He described his team's efforts as "a targeted attack on that data to see if it assists us to find out what happened to Madeleine McCann at that time".

While the data may ultimately help solve the case, Redwood warned that "a lot of the focus... is not necessarily to try to find the suspect, it's trying to find witnesses".

He acknowledged that the investigation had so far been unable to link a "large number" of mobile phone numbers to owners. Complicating matters is the difficulty of tracing the owners of pay-as-you-go handsets and the fact that text messages from 2007 have expired.

Madeleine McCann family’s 'utter despair' at disappearance 13/09/2013 

MADELEINE MCCANN’S mother wept in a Portuguese court yesterday as friends described her “utter despair” at the disappearance of her daughter.

Her grief was compounded, the court heard, by accusations made by the former police chief who lead the hunt for the three-year-old.
In a book written after he was removed from the investigation, Goncalo Amaral claims that Madeleine died in an accident at the McCann’s holiday apartment in the Algarve. He says the couple staged her disappearance to mask their negligence.

The McCanns, who deny Amaral’s claims, have sought to block sales of the book, the Daily Mail reports. But it remains on sale in Portugal and it is estimated he may have made as much as £1 million from the book and a documentary distributed on DVD.

Kate McCann was in Lisbon yesterday for the start of a libel action her family has brought against Amaral. She is not expected to give evidence at the hearing. But Susan Hubbard, the wife of an Anglican minister who counselled the McCanns after their daughter’s disappearance, said the couple were “devastated” by Amaral’s book.
“The thought that most people in Portugal thought Madeleine was dead was devastating for both Kate and Gerry – and the thought that was added, that they had something to do with it,” she told the court.

The McCanns’ lawyer, Isabel Duarte, said Amaral’s book – whose English title is The Truth of the Lie - also alleged that the family’s ‘Find Madeleine’ fund could be fraudulent. The fund raised £2 million to continue the search for the toddler after Portuguese police closed the case.

A private detective employed by the fund said he received “abuse” after the publication of Amaral’s book “soured public opinion against the McCanns.”

The case continues.

Madeleine McCann: Libel case against Goncalo Amaral begins 12/09/2013

MADELEINE MCCANN’S mother is expected to be awarded as much as £1 million if a libel suit against a former Portuguese police chief who wrote a controversial book about her daughter’s disappearance is successful.

Kate McCann arrived in Lisbon this morning for the start of her family’s lawsuit against Goncalo Amaral. His book, Maddie: A Verdade da Mentira (Maddie: The Truth of the Lie), suggests that the McCanns lied about their daughter’s disappearance.

Amaral was the lead investigator into the three-year-old’s disappearance from a holiday flat in the Algarve in October, 2007. He was removed from the investigation after five months, but subsequently wrote a book claiming that Madeleine’s parents “fabricated the abduction story” after the toddler died accidentally in their apartment, The Guardian reports.

Amaral was paid “at least £320,000” to write the book and make a documentary that is sold on DVD, the Daily Mirror reports. The titles became bestsellers in Portugal and a legal source close to the McCanns believes Amaral earned close to £1 million.

The couple strongly deny the accusations made in the book and the DVD and say the former detective's claims have “damaged the hunt for Madeleine” and exacerbated the anguish suffered by her relatives, Sky News reports.

In September 2009, the McCanns won an injunction banning further sales of Amaral’s book and film. He appealed and a Portuguese court overturned the ban in a judgement released in October 2010.

Kate McCann is not expected to give evidence at the libel case opening at Lisbon’s civil court this morning. But a number of relatives are expected to appear in the witness box, including Kate McCann's cousin Michael Wright, the BBC reports.

A spokesman for the couple said: "Kate and Gerry McCann remain very confident that they will win the case."

The libel case will be heard today and tomorrow. It will then be adjourned until next Thursday when the court will sit again for two days. A final hearing is expected on 27 September. The judgement is expected to be deferred.

Dozen British suspects as new Maddie probe begins 04/07/2013

TWELVE Britons have been identified as possible suspects in the case of missing toddler Madeleine McCann.

Scotland Yard, which today launched a full-scale investigation into Madeleine's disappearance, has identified 38 people 'of interest' from five different countries. Included on the list are 12 Britons who were in Portugal when the three-year-old vanished in 2007, reports The Times.

Officers made it clear that there is no prime suspect in the investigation and neither the McCann family nor the friends staying with them at the time of the girl's disappearance were among the people they had identified.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who is leading the inquiry, said: "We continue to believe there's a possibility Madeleine is alive. It is a positive step in our hunt for her that our understanding of the evidence has enabled us to shift from review to investigation."

A Portuguese probe into Madeleine's disappearance from her parents' holiday apartment in Praia da Luz was shelved in 2008. A Scotland Yard review was subsequently launched in 2011 following the intervention of Prime Minister David Cameron at the request of the McCann family.

The review took two years and cost £5m, but Redwood said it had given police "new thinking, new theories, new evidence and new witnesses". Home Secretary Theresa May has agreed to fund the new inquiry, named Operation Grange. A small team of Metropolitan Police detectives will be based in the Algarve during the probe.

A spokesman for Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann today said they "warmly welcome" the shift from review to investigation.

"It is clearly a big step forward in establishing what happened and, hopefully, towards bringing whoever is responsible for Madeleine's abduction to justice," he said.

Madeleine McCann: Scotland Yard identify 12 new leads 21/05/2013

SCOTLAND YARD has identified 12 new people of interest as part of its review into the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal.

The Daily Mail reports the suspects include six British cleaners who were working near the holiday apartment complex in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz where the three-year-old went missing while her family were on holiday.

The news comes after Scotland Yard launched Operation Grange, a £2m review of all known evidence in the case. Last year detectives claimed there were 195 new leads.

Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell, head of Scotland Yard’s Homicide and Serious Crime Command, said there were “quite a few” people who could be investigated further “if only to be eliminated”.

Campbell said it was “perfectly possible” the evidence which could lead to the person responsible for her disappearance is already in Portuguese files. Police have hopes that Madeleine, who went missing just days before her fourth birthday, could still be rescued or reappear, as in the case of the Cleveland kidnappings.

Campbell said: “You only have to look at the case in Cleveland, Ohio, and the European cases. Of course there is a possibility she is alive. But the key is to investigate the case and, alive or dead, we should be able to try and discern what happened.”

A spokesperson for Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann said the couple has "been encouraged from the moment the review started and are now greatly encouraged that police have drawn up a shortlist of people who they believe are of interest to the inquiry." · 

Disqus - noscript

wouldn't all this be best left unsaid whilst investigations continue in case whoever may have this poor little girl feels under threat.

Precisely my thoughts, Squiz. I sincerely hope that if she is still alive no harm will come to her as a result of these revelations.

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