Police Forced Into U-Turn In Missing Madeleine Hunt

Police Forced Into U-Turn In Missing Madeleine Hunt
26 May 2007
Press Association National Newswire
Caroline Gammell and John Bingham, PA in Praia da Luz

Portuguese police were forced to make an embarrassing U-turn after the parents of missing Madeleine McCann held discussions with prime minister-in-waiting Gordon Brown, it emerged today.

The Chancellor spoke to Gerry McCann on several occasions in recent days and pledged to do everything he could to support the family.

The McCanns were desperate to release details about a man seen carrying what was thought to be a child on the night Madeleine went missing and had threatened legal action.

But after a meeting between the couple and senior Portuguese officials, the police relented and a physical description was issued.

Today, Mr McCann said the talks were amicable and constructive and insisted the sighting could prove 'significant and relevant'' in finding the four-year-old.

It is 23 days since Madeleine was snatched from her bed at the Ocean Club Mark Warner resort in the Algarve town of Praia da Luz.

Mr McCann said he and wife Kate wanted 'more than anything'' to get their daughter back safe and well.

Appealing for help, he said: 'Any information, no matter how unimportant you think it could be might be vital in helping the Portuguese and British police find our daughter.''

Mrs McCann - still holding Madeleine's pink Cuddle Cat - held her husband's hand as he urged the public to step forward.

'Was this man seen anywhere else in or near the town with a child, or what appeared to be a child?

'Which direction was he heading in? Did he have a vehicle?''

After making their plea, the couple spent the afternoon with their two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie, and took them swimming.

They are determined to make life as normal for the children as they wait for any news of their elder sister.

The top level discussions with Mr Brown were an added boost to the McCanns after all other leads appeared to have gone cold.

Clarence Mitchell, a spokesman for the family, said: '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.''

A Treasury spokesman refused to confirm that Mr Brown had personally intervened to get the Portuguese police to change their minds on releasing the information.

The McCanns are convinced that a white man aged around 35 to 40 spotted by a friend of the couple near their apartment at 9.30pm was holding Madeleine.

He was medium build, 5ft 10ins tall, wearing a dark jacket and beige trousers.

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.

The family, whose lawyers have been in the Algarve recently, had a series of meetings with British ambassador John Buck over the past three weeks as well as with British and Portuguese police.

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.''

As the police investigation into Madeleine's disappearance continued, the cordons around the McCann's apartment were narrowed.

Telephone experts from the UK have travelled to the resort town to examine all landline and mobile calls made on the evening of May 3, the night of the abduction, according to local paper Jornal de Noticias.

And two former British soldiers who have volunteered to help in the hunt have been searching empty warehouses in the area.

The hunt for Madeleine has sparked interest across the world, including China, South Africa and the US.

The McCanns are currently planning trips to Spain, Germany and Holland to raise the profile of their daughter's case.

Return to top of page Copyright © 2010 | Flash News Converted into Blogger Template by HackTutors