From Padraic Flanagan in Praia da Luz
25 October 2007
The Daily Express

What detectives demand to know

POLICE chiefs have drawn up a dossier of new questions for Kate and Gerry McCann about the night their daughter disappeared, it was revealed yesterday.

Detectives are travelling from the Algarve with an official request to interview Madeleine's parents and the seven friends with whom they were on holiday in Praia da Luz.

They will table 14 key questions in an attempt to break the deadlock in the stalled investigation.

The news came on the day Kate broke down and sobbed during a TV appearance in which she and Gerry spoke of their belief that Madeleine is still alive.

Investigators believe that members of the party – dubbed the Tapas Nine after the Spanishthemed restaurant they were in when Madeleine disappeared – may have been involved in the crime.

Gerry and Kate will be interviewed for the second time as official suspects but it will be the first interrogation in Britain.

The outcome of the interviews, to be held within days, could lead to Portuguese police naming other members of the group as official suspects. Under Portuguese law, detectives would have to declare them "arguidos" in order to ask them key questions about events leading up to the night of May 3 when Madeleine vanished.

Three detectives are now set to fly to Britain bearing a legal letter signed by a Portuguese judge, asking their counterparts in the UK to table the series of questions on their behalf.

It is likely the interviews will be conducted by officers from Leicestershire Police who have already been helping the investigation.

But Portuguese officers are hoping to be present during the interrogations, which will be the first to take place since the days immediately after Madeleine disappeared from the McCanns' holiday apartment at the Ocean Club resort.

The couple were dining at the restaurant on the complex with seven friends, Rachael Oldfield, 36, Matthew Oldfield, 37, Jane Tanner, 36, Russell O'Brien, 36, Fiona Payne, 34, David Payne, 41, and Dianne Webster, Fiona Payne's mother.

The interviews will be confined to questions covered in the formal request from the Portuguese judge.

Algarve detectives may ask for followup questions to be put to the group but it is only at the discretion of British police carrying out the interviews.

A source within the Policia Judiciaria said: "The presence of our investigators in the interrogation room is important because they can analyse the gestures and facial expressions of those who are interviewed.

"This is an important part of a criminal investigation. It is what they call behavioural analysis." The key questions reveal how Portuguese detectives are sticking to the theory that the McCanns, and possibly their friends, are involved in Madeleine's disappearance.

Her parents, and the family friends, have strenuously denied any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance and insist she was abducted. They also deny any wrongdoing.

Last night a friend of the McCanns said: "Kate and Gerry's friends are expecting to be interviewed again at some point and are happy to cooperate and do anything they can to help find Madeleine." One member of the group, Jane Tanner, has already told police how she saw a man carrying a child wrapped in a blanket near the Ocean Club complex on the night Madeleine disappeared. Miss Tanner told police that the man was heading towards the home of Robert Murat – the British expat who was named as the first official suspect.

Murat, 33, was also placed in the frame by three other members of the McCanns' party.

Miss Tanner's hospital consultant partner Dr Russell O'Brien, Dr Fiona Payne and doctor's wife Rachael Oldfield, all claimed they saw Murat near the McCanns' apartment on the night Madeleine disappeared.

In July those three friends flew back to Portugal to confront Murat over his alibi during a tense five-hour grilling.

Murat – now set to be cleared – insisted he did not leave home that night and went to bed early after dining with his mother Jenny, 71.

Dr Payne's medical researcher husband David is said to have been one of the last people to see Madeleine.

He joined Kate and her children at the McCanns' apartment at 6.30pm on May 3 after Gerry asked him to check on them while he was having a tennis lesson.

Members of the party have told police they took it in turns to check on the children during the evening.

Police are said to be concerned at inconsistencies in the statements of the McCanns and their friends of the events that took place that night.

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