Find the maid: New Maddie Suspect

Find the maid: New Maddie Suspect: 
Amazing twist in investigation as cops hunt for suspect with a grudge
30 September 2007
The News of the World
Lucy Panton, Crime editor

* Sacked worker in 'revenge plot'

* Anonymous tip to Prince Charles

BRITISH cops launched an urgent hunt for a new suspect in the Maddie McCann case-after an astonishing tip-off from the PRINCE OF WALES.

An anonymous email sent to the prince's official website insists three-year old Madeleine was kidnapped from the Mark Warner Ocean Club holiday resort in Portugal by a disgruntled ex-employee.

The informant named a maid who was sacked from the apartment complex in Praia da Luz and claimed she snatched the child in a crazed revenge plot.

British police are now liaising with Portuguese detectives over the dramatic new twist which is revealed 150 days after Maddie vanished.

Officers believe the tipster entrusted the new information to Prince Charles because he and wife Camilla came out firmly in support of Maddie's parents Kate and Gerry.


In a statement released from Clarence House in May, the royal couple said they had been following the case "closely and with deep concern" and "fervently hoped" Madeleine would be reunited with her family.

As soon as the whistleblower's email arrived on the royal website aides passed it to Scotland Yard.

Officers from Leicestershire police- the McCanns' local force-are now trying to trace the writer.

The detectives have already established that the named ex-employee EXISTS and the checkable details appear to be ACCURATE.

A police source said:

"There have been hundreds of Madeleine theories, sightings and tips sent into UK cops from members of the public. But this one is different.

"It's incredibly detailed and so far, from the inquiries being made in Portugal, it appears to be based on factual events.

"UK officers have been taking a back seat in the hunt for Madeleine as it's a Portuguese inquiry. But they couldn't ignore this information.

"Any clue which could shed new light on the case will be dealt with seriously. This could be very significant."

After being told of the tip-off, McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said last night:

"We have continually said that any lead with a shred of credibility should be swiftly and thoroughly investigated by the police.

"Kate and Gerry are encouraged by any development that brings focus firmly on to finding Madeleine.

"Legitimate police activity is entirely proper and hopefully will bring about an end to the rampant unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations that have been so hurtful and distracting in recent days and weeks."

Yesterday it was not clear exactly how far Portuguese police have got with the new information. They have been given the name of the maid, who is thought to be Portuguese, but it is not known whether she has been physically traced.

But it has been established that the woman was sacked and left on bad terms with bosses at the resort.

The email tipster claimed the maid was incredibly bitter and wanted vengeance on her former employers.

An inside source added:

"The vital next step is for the police to track down the woman and either question her or put her under surveillance.

"She needs to be ruled in or out of the inquiry as soon as possible."

Meanwhile UK police are now focusing on tracing the informant who they feel may have MORE vital information which needs to be probed.

The Madeleine mystery has been the No1 topic of conversation among the dozens of British and Portuguese workers employed at the Algarve complex, owned and managed by Mark Warner.

Most of those hired as nannies, pool lifeguards, tennis coaches and front- of-house staff, such as receptionists, are young Brits. And the teams of maids, waiting and bar staff, pool cleaners and security officers are mainly Portuguese.

The housekeeping staff are given keys to the apartments which are cleaned at least twice a week.

There is no security monitoring of the staff who are free to come in and out of the complex unchecked.

But they are easily identifiable and all wear uniforms-red shorts and Mark Warner T-shirts for the kids' club workers, white uniforms for maids and smart suits for receptionists.


The new lead comes as desperate Portuguese police are STILL working on the discredited theory that Maddie may have been accidentally killed by mum Kate and then assisted by dad Gerry to cover it up.

The cops' latest claim was that the body may have been kept in a fridge before being dumped.

They are said to be focusing on a "mysterious and fatal period" of 90 minutes when they claim Kate was alone in the apartment with her children while Gerry played tennis.

McCann spokesman Mitchell dismissed this latest line as "utterly ridiculous" and begged for an end to the smear campaign. The stress on the couple was visible yesterday as they went for a 20- minute jog together near their home in Rothley, Leicestershire. A local said:

"It's great to see them back doing the things they love, but Kate looked dreadfully pale and thin. The strain shows."

Portuguese police have come in for huge criticism for missing vital clues in the investigation. Crucial forensic tests which should have taken place in the first few hours were not carried out until several months after Maddie vanished on May 3.

And door-to-door inquiries, documenting what locals and visitors saw, are still incomplete. The McCanns' apartment was described by one experienced cop as "the worst-preserved crime scene" he had ever witnessed.

It was not taped off until 10am the next morning and was compromised by hundreds of people passing through.

Family, friends and assorted helpers all wandered freely about the apartment and it was 48 hours before any fingerprinting was done.

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