2007 - 2017: Key events in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann

It is almost ten years since three-year-old Madeleine McCann vanished from the Portuguese coastal village of Praia da Luz.

Despite numerous public appeals, high-profile backers such as J. K. Rowling, and millions of pounds in public money, detectives have been unable to trace the youngster, who had been holidaying with her siblings and parents, Kate and Gerry, at the time.

Here is a timeline of events in the years following her disappearance.


:: May 3 - Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, leave their three children asleep in their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in southern Portugal while they dine with friends at a nearby tapas restaurant.

Nothing is amiss when Mr McCann checks on the youngsters just after 9pm, but when his wife goes back at about 10pm she finds three-year-old Madeleine missing.

Jane Tanner, one of the friends dining with the McCanns, reports seeing a man carrying a child earlier that night.

:: May 4 - Sniffer dogs are brought in, the Spanish and border police and airports are notified, and volunteer teams continue combing the village, resort and beach for clues.

Fears grow that Madeleine has been abducted and friends of the McCanns accuse the Portuguese police of not doing enough to find her.

:: May 14 - Detectives take Anglo-Portuguese property developer Robert Murat in for questioning and make him an "arguido", or formal suspect.

Officers also search the home he shares with his mother in Praia da Luz, just 100 yards from where the youngster vanished.

:: May 30 - Mr and Mrs McCann meet the Pope in Rome in the first of a series of trips around Europe and beyond to highlight the search for their daughter.

:: June 3 - Children's author J.K. Rowling says she is considering putting bookmarks bearing Madeleine's face in copies of her final instalment of the Harry Potter book series.

:: August 11 - Exactly 100 days after Madeleine disappeared, investigating officers publicly acknowledge for the first time that she could be dead.

:: September 7 - During questioning of Mr and Mrs McCann, detectives make them both ''arguidos'' in their daughter's disappearance.

:: August 31 - The McCanns launch a libel action against newspaper Tal e Qual which claimed they killed their daughter.

:: September 9 - The McCanns fly back to England with their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.

:: October 2 - Goncalo Amaral, the detective in charge of the inquiry, is removed from the case after criticising the British police in a Portuguese newspaper interview.

:: November 2 - Kate McCann makes a desperate plea for information on the eve of the six-month anniversary of her daughter's disappearance.

:: November 6 - Chairman of the Portuguese Union of Police Detectives, Carlos Anjos, says the McCann family have helped create an unhelpful "monster of information" by seeking a high-profile press campaign.

:: December 25 - Kate and Gerry McCann send an anguished public message to their daughter Madeleine telling her: "Our only Christmas wish is for you to be back with us again."


:: July 21 - The Portuguese authorities shelve their investigation and lift the "arguido" status of the McCanns and Robert Murat.

:: July 24 - Mr Amaral publishes a book about the case, entitled The Truth Of The Lie, in which he alleges that the young girl died in her family's holiday flat on the day she went missing. He later takes part in a documentary for Portuguese television in which he claimed that Madeleine was dead, that there had been no abduction and the McCanns had hidden her body.

:: August 4 - Thousands of pages of evidence from the Portuguese police files in the exhaustive investigation into Madeleine's disappearance are made public. They reveal details of the lines of inquiry pursued by detectives, witness statements and scores of previously unknown sightings of the little girl.


:: May 1 - Kate and Gerry McCann appeal for new information and release a computer-generated image depicting how Madeleine might look two years after she first disappeared.

:: September 9 - A Portuguese judge bans further sale or publication of Mr Amaral's book following legal action by Mr and Mrs McCann. This injunction is later upheld before being overturned on appeal.


:: May 12 - Mrs McCann publishes a book about her daughter's disappearance, on Madeleine's eighth birthday. Scotland Yard launches a review of the case after a request from Home Secretary Theresa May supported by Prime Minister David Cameron.


:: April 25 - Scotland Yard detectives say they believe Madeleine could still be alive, release an age-progression picture of how she might look as a nine-year-old, and call on the Portuguese authorities to reopen the case, but Portuguese police say they have found no new material.


:: July 4 - Scotland Yard confirms that it has launched its own investigation into Madeleine's disappearance two years into a review of the case. It has ''genuinely new'' lines of inquiry and has identified 38 people of interest, including 12 Britons.

:: October 17 - Scotland Yard says it has received more than 2,400 calls and emails following television appeals in the UK, Holland and Germany. Around another 1,250 calls were made to studios in the three countries.

:: October 24 - Portuguese police confirm that a review of their original investigation has uncovered new lines of inquiry, and reopen the case.

:: November 27 - Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said British and Portuguese police should join together as one team in their investigations.


:: January 29 - British detectives fly to Portugal amid claims they are planning to make arrests.

:: March 20 - Prime Minister David Cameron has said he is willing to step in if the British investigation into the disappearance is held up by delays in the Portuguese legal system.

:: June 3 - Sniffer dogs and specialist teams are used to search an area of scrubland close to where Madeleine went missing.


:: April 28 - Lisbon court orders Goncalo Amaral to pay Kate and Gerry McCann 250,000 euros (£209,000) each in damages over claims made in The Truth Of The Lie and bans further sales of the book.

:: September 16 - The Government discloses that the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine has cost more than £10 million.

:: October 28 - Scotland Yard's investigation into the disappearance has been cut from 29 officers to four.


:: April 3 - Home Secretary Theresa May grants UK police Operation Grange £95,000 to continue. Police confirm the investigation will be extended for a further six months.

:: April 19 - Portuguese appeal court overturns Mr Amaral's libel conviction.


:: January 31 - Portugal's Supreme Court rules against the McCanns' 500,000 euro (£418,000) libel claim against Goncalo Amaral. Court officials say the claims made in his book are protected by freedom of expression laws.

:: March 11 - Home Office grants Operation Grange £85,000 to continue between April and September.

:: April 25 - Kate and Gerry McCann describe the approaching tenth anniversary of their daughter's disappearance as a "horrible marker of time, stolen time" on the official Find Madeleine campaign website.


Most Read in World