Scotland Yard wants Madeleine case reopened25/04/2012 - 10:51:26
The UK's Scotland Yard has urged Portuguese authorities to reopen the search for Madeleine McCann today as detectives said there were 195 potential leads to finding her alive.
The detective leading the Metropolitan Police review said the case could still be solved before officers released a picture of what she might now look like as a nine-year-old.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said he believed her disappearance was a stranger abduction, as he said there were 195 “investigative opportunities”.
The detective leading the British review into the disappearance of Madeleine has spoken of now having the “best opportunity” of finally solving the mystery of what happened to her.
Detective Redwood said his inquiry, named Operation Grange, had access to all of the available evidence in one place for the first time.
It will be five years ago next week since the three-year-old went missing from her family’s holiday flat in Praia da Luz in the Algarve, as her parents Kate and Gerry McCann dined with friends nearby.
There have been hundreds of possible sightings of her all over the world since she vanished, but so far they have come to nothing.
Mr Redwood told the BBC’s Panorama programme, being shown tonight, that his team of 28 detectives and seven civilian support staff were handling a large number of reports and documents from both Portuguese and British police along with private detectives.
He said: “I am satisfied that the systems and processes that we are bringing to this set of circumstances will give us the best opportunity to find those investigative opportunities that we can then present to our colleagues in Portugal.
“Our initial estimates in terms of the amount of material we are facing is that it will be somewhere in the region of 40,000 pieces of information.
“There is, ultimately, a process of us turning every single piece of paper over and interpreting and analysing what is contained within them.”
Asked by reporter Richard Bilton if Madeleine’s disappearance on May 3 2007 could be solved simply by reappraising documentary evidence, he said: “Anything is possible, and clearly, within that material, the answer could lie.”
The Metropolitan Police detective is the senior investigator in the inquiry, which was established last May after British Prime Minister David Cameron responded to a plea from Madeleine’s parents to hold a UK police review of the case.
To date the review has cost taxpayers £2m while officers have made two trips to Spain and visited Portugal four times, most recently last week.
Mr Redwood told the programme: “We are here in terms of seeking to bring closure to the case. That would be the ultimate objective and is our ultimate objective.
“We are drawing together information from three separate sources.
“The legal enforcement bodies within Portugal, the UK enforcement agencies of which the police are the main part, and also and unusually the private investigation world which as we know is an element that was used by Mr and Mrs McCann in the search for their daughter.”
Former British Home Secretary Alan Johnson, who criticised the initial Portuguese investigation, also appears on the programme.
He calls on Mr Cameron to launch a “charm offensive” on the Portuguese government in the face of public opinion which he says is against the McCanns.
“Now a bit of diplomacy can ensure that you do get the co-operation you need from Portugal and we do get to the bottom of this,” he said.
Panorama – Madeleine: The Last Hope? will be shown on BBC1 at 7.30pm.
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