Madeleine McCann

Madeleine McCann: cost of UK police inquiry reaches £11m

Sep 2, 2015

'You can't keep chasing shadows,' says former Scotland Yard Flying Squad commander

Page 1 of 2Madeleine McCann: cost of UK police inquiry reaches £11m

A former Scotland Yard commander has suggested it might be time for the Madeleine McCann investigation to be wound down after it was revealed that the force has spent £11m on the case with no arrests.

Madeleine was three when she went missing from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in 2007 while her parents were having dinner at a nearby restaurant.

The case was shelved as unsolved, but the Metropolitan Police began reinvestigating in 2011 after the McCann family made a personal plea to Prime Minister David Cameron.

A team of 30 British detectives has been investigating her disappearance as part of an inquiry called Operation Grange.

The Sun claims spending on salaries, flights to Portugal and premises expenses has reached £11m, more than double the £5m pledged by Cameron four years ago – and it could top £12m by April if spending continues at the current rate.

"If there are no firm leads, and by that I mean no substantial operational things like active surveillance on suspects, then I'd have thought they should be considering winding it down," said John O'Connor, former head of the Metropolitan Police's Flying Squad, a branch given the task of investigating serious armed crime.

"You can't keep chasing shadows. Chasing sightings all over the world. It depends on whether the detectives are making any real progress. For me, it needs to be reviewed by a senior officer."

Earlier this year John Tully, the chairman of the Met Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers at Scotland Yard, said the force no longer had the resources to "conduct specialist inquiries all over the world which have nothing to do with London".

He said it was "surprising" to see such an inquiry ring-fenced and said he had head "a few rumblings of discontent about it from lots of sources".

A source close to the McCann family told The Sun that Madeleine's parents were "eternally grateful" to the Metropolitan Police and "pleased" so many officers were still searching for their daughter.

Madeleine McCann ruled out in Australian suitcase inquiry

30 July

South Australia Police investigating the death of a fair-haired girl found dead in a suitcase have ruled out Madeleine McCann as a potential victim.

British police contacted the Australian authorities after the remains of a girl, aged between two and four, were discovered on the side of a motorway in Wynarka, near Adelaide.

But South Australia Police have since "totally excluded" the possibility that the body is Madeleine.

The grim discovery was made on 15 July, but police said the little girl may have been killed as long ago as 2007. This was the year that Madeleine went missing from her family's holiday apartment at the age of three in Praia da Luz, in Portugal's Algarve.

Earlier in the week, the Daily Mirror claimed Madeleine's DNA would be tested against samples from the body.

But Detective Superintendent Des Bray, South Australia's police chief, has since confirmed that "Madeleine McCann has been totally excluded as a potential victim and UK police have been advised".

The search for Madeleine remains active, with Scotland Yard officers travelling to Portugal over the past year to interview suspects and carry out further searches.

Madeleine McCann: police contact Australia over suitcase remains

28 July

British police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are in contact with Australian authorities after the remains of a girl were found in a suitcase near Adelaide.

Madeleine was three years old when she went missing from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, in Portugal's Algarve, in May 2007.

Earlier this month, the remains of a girl, aged between two and four, were discovered in a suitcase next to a motorway in Wynarka, South Australia. The girl, who is yet to be identified, was believed to have had fair hair and may have been killed as long ago as 2007.

Her remains were found along with items of clothing, including a Dora the Explorer T-shirt, and a soiled, homemade quilt.

Police in Australia say there were two credible sightings in April and May of a man carrying a suitcase near to where it was found. They have appealed for him to come forward so he can be eliminated as a suspect, noting that it was "very, very unusual" that nobody in the area had identified him. They added that there were no other missing person cases in the state that could be linked to the little girl.

Grant Stevens, Australia's police commissioner, said there was "no evidence" the body was Madeleine's, but Metropolitan Police officers reportedly told the Daily Mirror: "We cannot rule it out."

Stevens told a parliamentary committee hearing: "There is absolutely no evidence at this point in time that the child is Madeleine McCann. To suggest something like that at this point in time would purely be speculating to get attention.

"We are focusing our inquiries on South Australia but we would be considering any potential missing child. Until we ascertain the identity of the child we need to be open to all possibilities."

A spokesman for the Metropolitan police said: "We are aware of reports of the remains of a child having been found in South Australia and we have made contact with the Australian authorities."

Madeleine McCann: UK police hold crucial Lisbon talks

16 March

British police say they have made progress in their search for Madeleine McCann after meeting Portuguese prosecutors for the first time since 11 key witnesses were re-interviewed last December.

Investigators from Operation Grange had "detailed discussions" in Lisbon to work out the next step in the search for the British girl who went missing eight years ago at the age of three.

The Metropolitan Police declined to comment on the latest meeting. A spokesman said: "We are not providing a running commentary."

But Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, said in a statement: "It's very apparent that the determination of the Metropolitan Police remains steadfast."

Operation Grange was set up in 2011 after the McCanns met with David Cameron and the home secretary Theresa May to appeal for investigations to continue. To date, the operation has cost £10 million, the Daily Express reports.

The Lisbon summit comes as a family in South Africa urged the McCanns not to lose hope after being reunited with their missing daughter after 17 years.

Zephany Nurse was kidnapped from her cot in a Cape Town hospital while her mother was sleeping just three days after giving birth.

Police efforts to locate the missing baby were unsuccessful until Morne and Celeste Nurse's other 11-year-old daughter came home from school and told her parents that she had seen an older student who looked just like her.

DNA tests proved that the girl was the Nurse family's missing child, the [2]BBC reports.

In an interview, the couple said that their story should prove to the McCanns that they should never give up the search for their daughter.

Madeleine McCann: UK police arrive in Portugal for questioning

09 December

British police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have arrived in Portugal to assist Portuguese authorities with the questioning of 11 "key witnesses".

Detectives from Scotland Yard have flown to Faro as part of Operation Grange and will spend three days overseeing the questioning of four British people and seven Portuguese citizens.

Scotland Yard has refused to comment on the latest development, saying it will not provide a "running commentary" on the investigation, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Madeleine was three when she went missing from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in 2007 while her parents were having dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Portuguese police closed the investigation into her disappearance in 2008, but Scotland Yard was ordered to open its own inquiry in 2011, following an appeal from her parents.

British ex-pat Robert Murat and his wife are among those being questioned by police, but are not being treated as suspects, the BBC reports.

Murat, who lived with his mother in a house close to where Madeleine went missing, was among the original suspects questioned by Portuguese police after Madeleine's disappearance. He has always strongly denied any involvement.

Workers at the Ocean Club Resort and John Hill, the resort's manager, are also believed to be among the witnesses being re-questioned.

According to the BBC's Christian Fraser, police will be looking for any "inconsistencies" in his and other witness statements. 


Madeleine McCann: UK police to fly to Portugal as 11 questioned

01 December

British detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are due to fly to Portugal next week to oversee the questioning of seven suspects and four witnesses.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police's Operation Grange are scheduled to fly to Faro on 8 December, according to the Daily Mirror.

Madeleine was three when she went missing from her family's holiday apartment at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz on 3 May 2007.

One line of inquiry is said to be whether she was taken during a break-in at the apartment. Officers are believed to be focusing on a white male aged 20 to 40 years old, who was seen carrying a child fitting Madeleine's description through Praia da Luz around the time of her disappearance.

Seven interviewees will be made an "arguido", the Portuguese equivalent of a suspect, and will be asked directly if they killed Madeleine, reports the Mirror.

Silvia and Joao Batista, a couple who worked at the Ocean Club, and John Hill, the resort's manager, are among the witnesses to be re-questioned, according to the Daily Express.

Detectives are also apparently interested in claims that a set of keys to the McCanns' apartment, which were kept in the maintenance section, went missing in the week that Madeleine vanished.

Police are expected to request an interview with Mario Fernando, a former Ocean Club laundryman, who said he saw a suspicious man looking at the apartment the day before Madeleine disappeared.

Portuguese police will conduct the interviews, while Scotland Yard officers can sit in during questioning, says the Express.

Last week it was revealed that Robert Murat, a British ex-pat and property developer, who lived with his mother in a house close to where Madeleine went missing, would be questioned again.

Peter Bleksley, a former Scotland Yard murder detective, said that this next stage of the investigation was a "logical progression" for the police. He said they were likely to have been focusing on the timeline of events and may now have questions on any inconsistencies that have arisen.


Madeleine McCann: police had tip-off that body was in lake

25 November 

Portuguese police were given a mystery tip-off six years ago that Madeleine McCann had been buried in a lake, it has emerged.

An employee of the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, where Madeleine went missing in May 2007, found a note in the doorway of her family's former holiday apartment exactly a year after she vanished.

The letter, which claimed to know the final resting place of the missing three-year-old, was immediately handed in to police

The note was reportedly headed "Madeleine Beth McCann" and included a description of how she had been dumped in the Barragem da Bravura reservoir, nine miles from the holiday resort and close to a motorway.

The employee, who is described as a "handyman" but not named, told the Daily Mirror: "It was raining that night so it was soaking wet when I found it. It clearly said Madeleine's name at the top. It was written in Portuguese.

"Beneath it was a location for what it claimed was her final resting place."

"I spoke to the other staff about it and they said to hand it in to the Portuguese police. I gave it to them, but I have no idea what they did about it. It would be the perfect place to hide a body."

According to the Mirror, an underwater search of the reservoir is not thought to have taken place, although the surrounding woodland was investigated.

One person who witnessed the search told the newspaper: "I never saw any divers physically trawl through that lake. The water is dark and murky and would need to be searched thoroughly.

"It's so close to Praia da Luz, and such an obvious place to hide a body, that I'm amazed following an actual tip off this hasn't been done."

A spokesperson for Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann said they would "welcome" any new searches but would not comment on any specific details of the case. Scotland Yard has refused to comment.


More on Madeleine McCann 

Kate and Gerry 'encouraged by progress'Praia da Luz mayor blasts timing of digPolice to investigate five new assaultsWhy did paedophile lead take so long?Police in hunt for Algarve sex attacker

Page 1 of 2Madeleine McCann: cost of UK police inquiry reaches £11m

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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.