Brown 'puts up shutters' as McCanns plead for help

Dec 9, 2007
Sunday Times
Mark Macaskill

A businessman helping to fund the hunt for Madeleine McCann has accused Gordon Brown and David Miliband of ignoring her parents' plight. Stephen Winyard, who owns a Scottish health spa, said the "shutters had gone up" after Portuguese police named Gerry and Kate McCann as suspects. He said the only offer in response to a request for a ministerial meeting was to see a junior official. "Our request to meet with ministers -the prime minister, the home secretary and the foreign secretary -has still not been met," said Winyard.

It emerged this weekend that the investigation into the four- year-old's disappearance in May could be wound up by next month. Detectives admit they have no evidence that she is dead, but are thought to want to re-interview the McCanns.

Winyard, who is one of Scotland's richest businessman, offered a Pounds 1m reward for Madeleine's safe return. He has since pledged Pounds 100,000 to help meet the McCanns' legal costs.

Speaking to The Sunday Times this weekend, Winyard said the McCanns deserved more government help. "We have a situation where two British citizens are not getting the public support that this government should give them. Gordon Brown contacted the McCanns earlier in the year to express his support but since they were labelled suspects, the shutters have gone up."

Also supporting the McCanns are Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin boss, and Brian Kennedy, the double-glazing tycoon. Winyard said other financial supporters had backed away when the McCanns were made suspects. "There are no other mystery benefactors," he said.

Suspicions over the McCanns' involvement have been fueled by speculation over DNA tests on the Renault Scenic car they hired after their daughter's disappearance.

It was reported last month by the London Evening Standard that DNA found in the car was believed to be Madeleine's and "came from a corpse". But Portuguese police are now being quoted as saying the DNA results are inconclusive.

Winyard said a Home Office-approved security company working on behalf of the McCanns, Control Risks Group, had done its own tests, which showed no evidence to implicate the McCanns.

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