SAS join hunt for Maddie - Portuguese police failed

25 September 2007
Daily Telegraph
Sam Greenhill

Kate and Gerry McCann have hired a firm of investigators run by former SAS experts to hunt for their daughter Madeleine.

The couple, who fear the Portuguese police have all but given up the search, have asked Control Risks Group to mount a fresh hunt.

The firm, which has long experience of search and rescue operations, is said to have a team in Portugal already.

The McCanns want investigations carried out wherever there have been credible sightings.

The SAS development came as:

* IT WAS revealed that two separate witnesses reported seeing Madeleine in Marrakesh, Morocco, on the same day;

* A DOUBLE-glazing magnate pledged to bankroll the McCanns;

* BRITISH forensic scientists criticised Portuguese police for ``overinterpreting'' DNA results.

Control Risks was founded in 1975, initially to help businessmen in South America who were targeted by kidnappers. It claims to have solved more than 1000 cases.

It has 600 employees, many of them former special forces members or MI6 agents. Ex-SAS commander Sir Michael Rose is a director.

CRG has been paid about $270 million over three years by the British Government for security work in Iraq, where its Baghdad station was set up by Jamie Blount, a former Foreign Office official.

The company's exact role in the hunt for Madeleine has not been made public, but it is thought to involve investigating paedophile networks and vetting potential suspects.

Its team on the Algarve is understood to have access to expertise and specialist equipment to conduct operations in and around Praia da Luz, where Madeleine disappeared on May 3 a few days before her fourth birthday. The move is likely to upset the Portuguese police.

But the McCanns, both 39-year-old doctors from Rothley, Leicestershire, fear that since detectives switched the focus of the investigation to them earlier this month declaring them ``arguidos'', or suspects, they have done nothing about finding their daughter.

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