Madeleine McCann: UK police arrive in Portugal for questioning

Madeleine McCann

Scotland Yard detectives will be observing interviews of 11 British and Portuguese nationals by local police

LAST UPDATED AT 10:47 ON Tue 9 Dec 2014

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.


Madeleine McCann: former suspect Robert Murat to be questioned

19 November

Robert Murat, the first formal suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, is to be questioned again by police in relation to the case.

He was named by BBC News and Portuguese newspapers today as one of eleven people being spoken to as "persons of interest". His wife, Michaela Walczuck, is also understood to be on the list.

Murat, a British ex-pat and property developer, lived with his mother Jenny in a house close to where Madeleine went missing in Prai da Luz in May 2007. His mother always maintained she had been with him at home on the night of her disappearance.

Murat, who is originally from Norfolk, helped police with translation in the first few days after Madeleine's disappearance and was questioned by officers less than two weeks later. He was made an "arguido", the Portuguese equivalent of a suspect, but has always strongly denied any involvement.

He won substantial libel damages and an apology from several British newspapers in 2008 over nearly 100 "seriously defamatory" news articles.

Portuguese police also named Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, as arguidos, sparking a slew of allegations against the couple, who also claimed substantial libel damages.

At the time, Murat said he had gone "to hell and back without doing anything wrong" and had to wait months for his arguido status to be dropped.

Murat told ITV News this morning that he had only learned that he would face police questioning through today's Portuguese media reports.

Madeleine was three when she went missing from her family's holiday apartment on 3 May 2007.


Madeleine McCann: UK man and woman among new suspects

11 November

A British man and woman are among seven people to be questioned over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, ITV News reports. Madeleine vanished at the age of three from the Praia da Luz resort in Portugal in 2007.

The seven will be questioned by officers in Faro on the Algarve between 24 and 28 November. As well as the British woman, an eastern or central European woman will be interviewed.

Five men, at least three of them Portuguese, will also be asked to say where they were on the night Madeleine vanished. It is thought that three of the people being questioned will be given "arguido" status - formal suspects under Portuguese law. The term is more inclusive than the British term “suspect”.

Another four people will be spoken to as witnesses.

None of the people being questioned were known to Kate and Gerry McCann - though some have spoken to the police before. It is believed some may have been staff at the resort’s Ocean Club around the time Madeleine was last seen.

ITV says the questioning follows extensive reviews of mobile phone footage and is the latest stage in the British investigation into the disappearance.


Madeleine McCann: Parents return to Portugal for libel trial

08 July

Kate and Gerry McCann returned to Portugal today for the latest hearing in their long-running libel case against Goncalo Amaral, the former police chief who oversaw the investigation into their daughter's disappearance in 2007.

The couple are suing Amaral for claims he made in his 2008 book, The Truth of the Lie, which included allegations that the McCanns hid Madeleine's body and faked her abduction following an accident at their Praia da Luz apartment.

Last month the couple flew to Lisbon to give personal statements on the impact of Amaral's accusations, but were unable to testify when the former police chief fired his legal team on the morning they were due to appear in court. His actions prompted a fourth adjournment in the case, which has now been running for five years,

The McCanns described the fiasco as a "blatant and cynical attempt" to delay the trial. Despite their anger, the McCanns are more "hopeful" this time round, the Independent says.

Speaking to the London Evening Standard, Gerry McCann said: "First of all we hope we get heard, that's the first thing. And also justice for Madeleine obviously."

The McCanns are expected to receive a settlement of about £1 million if their libel action against Amaral proves successful. A judgment is expected later this year.


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

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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