Chancellor 'Spoke To Missing Madeleine's Father'

Chancellor 'Spoke To Missing Madeleine's Father'
26 May 2007
Press Association National Newswire
John Bingham and Caroline Gammell, PA, in Praia Da Luz

Prime Minister-in-waiting Gordon Brown has spoken personally to the father of missing Madeleine McCann to pledge support from the very top of the Government for the family's efforts to find her, it was confirmed today.

The Chancellor had a series of telephone conversations with Madeleine's father Gerry McCann in recent days.

Clarence Mitchell, a spokesman for the family in the Algarve, said today: 'I can confirm that telephone conversations have taken place between Gerry McCann and Chancellor Gordon Brown.

'During them, Mr Brown offered both Gerry and Kate his full support in their efforts to find Madeleine, although details of the conversations will remain private.

'The conversations took place against the background of the Chancellor's earlier offer to help when he met and spoke to other members of the McCann family in the UK.''

Although details of the conversations have not been released it is thought they took place before a dramatic U-turn by the Portuguese police on whether or not to release details of a possible sighting of Madeleine being carried by her abductor in the Algarve village of Praia Da Luz on the night she was taken.

Mr and Mrs McCann have been desperate for a description of a man seen carrying what appears to have been a child on May 3 to be released.

A white man aged around 35 to 40 was spotted by a friend of the couple at 9.30pm on the night of Madeleine's abduction.

Her parents are convinced that it was Madeleine.

Portuguese police have known about the sighting for three weeks but because of extraordinary laws which forbid the release of details of an investigation the sighting could not be publicly released.

In other countries such a vital piece of the jigsaw would have been released early on in the hope of future witnesses coming forward.

Although they have praised the efforts being made to find the four-year-old, the McCanns were said to be increasingly 'frustrated'' in recent days at delays and communication problems.

The family, whose lawyers have been in the Algarve meeting them recently, threatened legal action to push for the information to be released because of the exceptional circumstances.

They had a series of meetings with British ambassador John Buck over the past three weeks as well as with British and Portuguese police where the issue may have been raised.

And today it emerged that Mr Brown had spoken to Mr McCann by telephone more than once.

Last night, after clearance was given by a public prosecutor, Portugal's Policia Judiciaria (PJ) finally gave way and released the description, appealing for information.

Already there have been reports of a possible second sighting of the man carrying what appeared to be a child in Praia Da Luz that night.

Although the reports have not been confirmed a friend of the family said today: 'This is why the family were pushing to get that out there early because they are hopeful that a number of other people might have seen her.''

The McCanns welcomed the police's decision to release details of the suspect.

They emerged from their apartment - Mrs McCann still clutching Madeleine's pink cuddles - to make a statement to the waiting media.

Mr McCann said they had had an 'amicable and very constructive'' meeting with police.

'We very much welcome the decision of the police authorities to release details of a man seen by witnesses here in Praia Da Luz on Thursday, May 3, the night of Madeleine's disappearance.

'The release of this important information followed an earlier meeting we had with senior police officers.

'We feel sure that this sighting of a man with what appeared to be a child in his arms is both significant and relevant to Madeleine's abduction.''

He urged anyone who may have seen the suspect to come forward to police.

'Any information no matter how unimportant it might be could be vital in helping the Portuguese police to find our daughter.

'We wish for nothing more than to bring Madeleine home with us safe and well.''

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