McCann's fear the worst - but hope for the best

Madeleine McCann’s parents are facing up to the possibility that she is dead - but cling to the hope that their next phone call will tell them she has been found alive, their spokesman said today.

Clarence Mitchell spoke today of Gerry and Kate McCann’s “turmoil” at losing their four-year-old daughter, which he said had been made many times worse by their being made official suspects in her disappearance.

Speaking at a media conference in their home village of Rothley, Leicestershire, he said: “They are a family facing possible bereavement. They hope desperately that the next phone call is ’We have found her and she’s OK’.

“I am not naive but that is still a possibility.

“It’s a turmoil at times. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. And then to have that extra pressure heaped upon them. It’s the worst situation times two, times 10.”

The comments come after it emerged that two people reported separate, independent sightings of the little girl in the same part of Marrakech, Morocco, six days after her apparent abduction on May 3.

Yesterday, Mr Mitchell revealed that the family had been told of both sightings when reported. Only one was disclosed to the media at the time.

Today, he said: “They are always very pleased to hear of any situation no matter how long after (she disappeared). Any sighting anywhere is of value.”

Former BBC reporter Mr Mitchell refused to confirm reports that the McCanns have hired private security firm Control Risks Group (CRG) to investigate their daughter’s disappearance.

“All I can say is that Gerry and Kate have always made it clear that they will leave no stone unturned in the search for Madeleine,” he said. “I cannot comment further.”

In response to questions from Portuguese journalists, the ex-Government public relations chief said British ministers were no longer involved in helping the McCanns.

He said: “It has been reported that Gerry did have a few conversations with ministers. With the changing of their status, the inter-governmental status is such that any contact like this has ended. It would be improper.

“There is absolutely no British Government influence in this case. It’s for the Portuguese authorities to investigate.”

The McCanns have been declared “arguidos” but are still keen to maintain a good relationship with the authorities in Portugal, said Mr Mitchell.

He said: “Gerry and Kate want this to feel like a spirit of cooperation with the Portuguese authorities, rather than adversarial approach.

“They want to get their names cleared as quickly as possible. They are a lot more positive than they were two or three weeks ago.

“During the period of interviews they did feel isolated.

“All I can say is that they are positive and they are working hard to find Madeleine and, secondly, to clearing their name.

“They know they are innocent, I know they are innocent. They did not harm, let alone kill, her.

“We are confident they will clear their names shortly.

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