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 Message 1 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzy  (Original Message)Sent: 1/25/2008 3:54 PM


Madeleine: Timeline of events

Last updated at 10:22am on 15th May 2007

Missing: Madeleine McCann

<LINK media=screen href="/style/all_stories.css" type=text/css rel=stylesheet>

The search for Madeleine McCann continues - with several people questioned over her disappearance.

Here, we look at the key events around her abduction in the Algarve.

Thursday May 3
?Kate and Gerry McCann leave their daughter Madeleine and her two-year-old twin brother and sister Sean and Amelie in bed in their apartment and head for dinner at a nearby tapas restaurant.
?The couple check on them regularly and at around 9pm, Mr McCann finds nothing amiss when he returns to their room in the seaside resort at the Ocean Club in Praia Da Luz.
?His wife Kate goes to check on them again at 10pm and finds the shutter slid up, the bedroom window open and Madeleine gone.
?They carry out their own quick search for Madeleine but find nothing and inform the police.
?Fellow holidaymakers, staff at the resort and police spend most of the night searching frantically.

Friday May 4
?Sniffer dogs are brought in, the Spanish and border police and airports are notified and volunteer teams continue to comb the village, resort and beach for clues.
?Fears grow that Madeleine has been taken against her will and her parents accuse the Portuguese police of not doing enough to find her.
?The Policia Judiciaria - the Portuguese CID - refuses to comment on the investigation into the girl's disappearance.
?Relatives including Madeleine's grandparents start flying out to Portugal to offer support to her parents as they continue to wait for news.
?The British Ambassador to Portugal, John Stephen Buck, and director of Mark Warner UK Operations Craig Mayhew also travel to the Algarve.
?The McCanns later make an emotional plea, directly addressing their daughter's abductors, and speak of their "anguish and despair".
With his wife at his side clutching Madeleine's favourite teddy, Mr McCann asks: "Please, if you have Madeleine, let her come home to her Mummy, Daddy, brother and sister."

Saturday May 5
?Three Family Liaison Officers (FLO) from Leicestershire Police arrive in Portugal to support the family.
?Madeleine's aunt Philomena McCann criticises the Portuguese police, claiming they had played down her disappearance and were being "uncommunicative".
?Detectives reveal they do now believe she was abducted but is still alive and in Portugal, and say they have a sketch of a "suspect". Police also reveal they are considering she might have been abducted for sexual abuse.
?Mr McCann makes a fresh appeal for help and thanks the police for their efforts.
?A colleague of Madeleine's mother offers a £100,000 reward for help in finding the missing girl.

Sunday May 6
?The McCanns attend an emotional Mother's Day service in Praia Da Luz and prayers are said for Madeleine and her family in both Portuguese and English.
?Mrs McCann then breaks down with emotion as she addresses reporters to express her gratitude for the local community's support.
?Questions arise about the police's sketch of a "suspect" with one newspaper reporting the image is based only on the rear view of a man seen with a child in the area.

Monday May 7
?Police begin investigating a claim a man was seen dragging a girl towards a marina a short drive from the Portuguese resort where she went missing.
?Portuguese media later report that police think the abductor may have been British but this remains unconfirmed by officers involved in the investigation.
?Mrs McCann makes another personal plea to anyone holding her daughter, saying: "Please, please do not hurt her. Please do not scare her. Please let us know where to find Madeleine or put her in a place of safety and tell somebody where."
?Portuguese police later hold a chaotic press conference where they say they cannot give Madeleine's family any firm assurance that she is still alive or still in the region.

Tuesday May 8
?People in Madeleine's home village of Rothley, Leicestershire, hold a silent vigil for the family.
?Portuguese reports claim detectives are investigating British paedophiles with links to the Algarve.
?Football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo makes his own appeal for help in tracing the missing three-year-old, and is later followed by fellow footballers John Terry and Paulo Ferreira.
?Portuguese police say an apparent sighting of the youngster is a false alarm, and also reveal that more than 350 suspicious incidents have been investigated.
?British Ambassador to Portugal John Buck defends the Portuguese investigation after meeting with the McCanns.

Wednesday May 9
?Gerry and Kate McCann say in a short statement they continue to "remain positive" and thank all those taking part in the search.
?Police examine a CCTV tape from a service station just a few miles from Praia da Luz showing a woman with a girl fitting Madeleine's description.
?An internet appeal in English, Portuguese and Spanish is launched while Crimestoppers also creates an international number for people with information.
?Madeleine's grandmother says that mistakes could have been initially made in the police investigation due to "inexperience".

Thursday May 10
?Kate McCann leads villagers and holidaymakers in prayer at the local church in Praia Da Luz a week after Madeleine disappeared.
?Crimestoppers says it has passed on four pieces of "very useful" information from hundreds of calls made to the special number set up by the charity.
?Reports say police are investigating the possibility that Madeleine was snatched by a group of three - two men and a woman.
?The footage from the petrol station is also described as possibly holding the "key" to the investigation.
?Police say in a press conference that the search for Madeleine is being wound down. They also issue an image of a pair of pyjamas identical to those which Madeleine had been wearing when she disappeared.
?It is thought the McCanns may have been shown pictures of two suspects during a visit to a police station in Portimao.
?Four other people, believed to be friends of the McCanns, are also questioned.

Friday May 11
?Madeleine's father vows his family will leave "no stone unturned" in the search for her. On the eve of Madeleine's fourth birthday, Mr McCann says he and his wife were grateful for the worldwide support.
?Three British people are believed to have been taken in by police for questioning. It is believed they are potential witnesses rather than suspects.
?A businessman offers a reward of £1 million for information leading to the return of Madeleine. Owner of Scottish health spa Stobo Castle Stephen Winyard, 57, who lives in Monaco, said he was moved to come forward by photographs of Madeleine's distraught parents.
?David Beckham makes a television appeal for information from the public. In the broadcast, shown on Sky News, the former England captain says: "If you have seen this little girl please go to the local authorities or the police with any genuine information. Please, please help us."

Saturday May 12
?Madeleine turns four. Residents in Rothley were considering baking a cake and holding a party to mark the milestone - but relatives say they would only want the celebration to take place when she returns and the birthday is postponed.
?Her parents mark the day by calling for people to redouble their efforts to find her.
?A group of business figures, celebrities and a national newspaper offer a reward of £1.5 million for information leading to Madeleine's safe return. Entrepreneurs including Sir Richard Branson and Sir Philip Green are among those who join together to offer the huge sum, bringing the total amount of money now being offered in the search to more than £2.5 million.
?Chancellor Gordon Brown expresses his sympathy for Madeleine's parents and says his thoughts are with them.

Sunday May 13
?It emerges London lawyers from the International Family Law Group have flown out to Portugal to assist Gerry and Kate McCann, and are setting up a special "fighting fund" to allow members of the public to make their own financial contribution to the search.

Monday May 14
?In a statement to the media, Mr McCann says that "until there is concrete evidence to the contrary, we believe Madeleine is safe and is being looked after". Mrs McCann says they cannot consider going home at the moment.
?The home of a British man 160 yards from where Madeleine was snatched is searched by police. Robert Murat has been living there with his mother Jenny, who is believed to own it.
?The Policia Judiciaria says two or three people are being questioned but stress no-one has been formally arrested.


Timeline: Key events in the search for missing Madeleine McCann

Last updated at 13:30pm on 7th September 2007

Here are the key events in the search for missing Madeleine McCann:

Thursday May 3

?Kate and Gerry McCann leave their three children in bed in their holiday apartment in the Ocean Club resort in the Algarve village of Praia da Luz and head for dinner with friends at a nearby tapas restaurant.

They check on the youngsters - Madeleine, three, and twins Sean and Amelie, two - regularly as part of an arrangement with other couples on holiday with them.

At 10pm Mrs McCann goes to check on the children and finds Madeleine has disappeared.

Fellow holidaymakers, staff at the resort and police spend most of the night frantically searching for the missing girl.

Friday 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 taken against her will and her parents accuse the Portuguese police of not doing enough to find her.

The McCanns make an emotional plea, directly appealing to their daughter's abductors and speaking of their "anguish and despair".

Saturday May 5

?Madeleine's aunt Philomena McCann criticises the Portuguese police, claiming they had played down her disappearance and were being "uncommunicative".

Detectives say they do now believe she was abducted but is still alive and in Portugal, and say they have a sketch of a suspect.

Sunday May 6

?The McCanns attend an emotional Mother's Day service in Praia da Luz at which prayers are said for Madeleine and her family in both Portuguese and English.

Monday May 7

?It emerges that police are investigating a claim a man was seen dragging a girl towards the marina at Lagos, a short drive from Praia da Luz.

Portuguese police hold a chaotic press conference where they say they cannot give Madeleine's family any firm assurance that she is still alive or still in the region.

Tuesday May 8

?People in Madeleine's home village of Rothley, Leicestershire, hold a silent vigil for the family.

Portuguese reports claim detectives are investigating British paedophiles with links to the Algarve.

Wednesday May 9

?Police examine a CCTV tape from a service station just a few miles from Praia da Luz showing a woman with a girl fitting Madeleine's description.

An internet appeal in English, Portuguese and Spanish is launched while Crimestoppers also creates an international number for people with information.

Thursday May 10

?Mrs McCann leads villagers and holidaymakers in prayer at the local church in Praia da Luz one week after Madeleine's disappearance.

Police say in a press conference that the search for Madeleine is being wound down.

Saturday May 12

?Madeleine's fourth birthday.

Her parents mark the day by calling for people to redouble their efforts to find her. After spending most of the day away from Praia da Luz, the couple attend a special birthday mass in the village where Mr McCann speaks about the impact of the abduction on the family.

He also says for the first time that the couple are convinced Madeleine is alive.

The total reward being offered by business figures, celebrities and a national newspaper for information leading to Madeleine's safe return reaches £2.5 million.

Chancellor Gordon Brown expresses his sympathy for Madeleine's parents and says his thoughts are with them.

Sunday May 13

?It emerges London lawyers from the International Family Law Group have flown to Portugal to assist the McCanns, and are setting up a special "fighting fund" to allow members of the public to make their own financial contribution to the search.

Monday May 14

?Mr McCann says that "until there is concrete evidence to the contrary, we believe Madeleine is safe and is being looked after". Mrs McCann says they cannot consider going home at the moment.

Police launch a search at the home of Anglo-Portuguese man Robert Murat, just 100 yards from where Madeleine was snatched. Mr Murat is taken in for questioning, but is not formally arrested.

Tuesday May 15

?Police officially class Robert Murat as an "arguido", or suspect. He claims he is being made a "scapegoat" in the investigation. Wednesday May 16

Detectives swoop on the Praia da Luz home of Russian computer expert Sergey Malinka, who designed a website for Mr Murat, and interview him.

Madeleine's aunt Philomena McCann travels to Westminster to lobby for support. Gordon Brown pledges to help "in any way he can".

New video images of Madeleine are broadcast at half-time during the Uefa Cup Final between Sevilla and Espanyol in Glasgow.

Thursday May 17

?It emerges that Portuguese police are investigating telephone calls between Sergey Malinka and Robert Murat on the night Madeleine was abducted.

The official website set up to help find Madeleine,, receives more than 25 million hits.

Posters protesting Robert Murat's innocence appear around the Norfolk village where he used to live.

Sunday May 20

?Mr McCann flies back to the UK for meetings about the Madeleine Fund and to put personal affairs in order.

Monday May 21

?Mr McCann visits Rothley, where he sees thousands of tributes from villagers. He later returns to Portugal.

Thursday May 24

?Madeleine's family releases the last photograph known to have been taken of her before she disappeared.

The happy family snap, taken seven hours before she was abducted, shows the young girl laughing in the sunshine as she dangled her feet in the swimming pool.

A fighting fund for the McCanns' campaign reaches almost £300,000 and the number of hits on the website reaches 125 million.

Friday May 25

?The McCanns give their first interviews and speak of how the "guilt" of not being with Madeleine when she was abducted will never leave them.

Police finally release the description of the man seen carrying a child on the night of Madeleine's abduction after pressure from the McCanns, their legal team and the British Government.

The man is described as white, approximately 35 to 40 years old, of medium build and 5ft 10ins tall. He was wearing a dark jacket, light beige trousers and dark shoes.

Wednesday May 30

?Kate and Gerry McCann attend an audience with the Pope at the Vatican as they travel around Europe to publicise their campaign to find Madeleine.

Thursday May 31

?Portuguese police say they are trawling through two dossiers, 8cm thick, of emails and messages from clairvoyants who say they know where Madeleine is. They say they are trying to find out if any of the messages could be from her kidnapper.

Wednesday June 6

?While in Berlin, Madeleine's parents are forced to deny any involvement in her abduction when asked by a German journalist if they had anything to do with her disappearance.

Thursday June 7

?A mystery phone call from a man claiming to know Madeleine's whereabouts is received.

The caller provides such detail that Kate and Gerry McCann temporarily put their European search for their daughter on hold in case they need to act. The call is later traced to a mobile phone registered in Argentina.

Wednesday June 13

?An anonymous letter sent to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf claims Madeleine's body is buried in deserted scrubland only nine miles from where she was abducted.

Sunday June 17

?Portuguese police say Madeleine's friends and family may have unwittingly destroyed vital evidence in the first few hours after her abduction, during their search for her.

Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa says their well-meaning actions could prove "fatal" for the investigation.

Thursday June 21

?The first of a series of reported sightings of a girl resembling Madeleine is reported in Malta. The initial reports spark a flurry of interest in the island with dozens of possible sightings reported in subsequent days and weeks.

Friday June 22

?Hundreds of balloons bearing Madeleine's picture are released across the world as a tribute to mark the 50th day since her disappearance.

Thursday June 28

?Spanish police arrest an Italian man and a Portuguese woman suspected of trying to extort money from Madeleine's parents by offering them information about the missing girl.

They are not believed to have anything to do with her disappearance.

Monday July 2

?The McCanns move out of the apartment in the Ocean Club resort where they have been staying since the abduction to a private property nearby.

Friday July 6

?Dutch police reveal they have arrested a man in Eindhoven suspected of attempting to defraud Gerry and Kate McCann demanding two million euro (£1.35 million) for information on her whereabouts.

Tuesday July 10

?Mr Murat returns to the police station in Portimao for further questioning. He goes there again the following day.

Saturday July 14

?On a short trip back to the UK, Kate and Gerry McCann attend the baptism of two of their godchildren in Skipton, north Yorkshire.

Monday July 16

?Harry Potter author JK Rowling announces she will use the worldwide appeal of her boy wizard to help the search for Madeleine.

Posters of Madeleine are made available to booksellers in more than 200 countries around the world ahead of the publication of the long-awaited final book in her best-selling series on July 21.

Monday July 23

?On a four-day fact-finding visit to the US, Mr McCann meets US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to discuss efforts to tackle child abduction.

Friday August 3

?Details emerge of a possible sighting of Madeleine in Belgium. A child therapist says she is "100% sure" she saw the young girl at a restaurant in the Flemish town of Tongeren, not far from the Dutch border, on July 28.

The witness said the girl was with a couple, a Dutch man and an English-speaking woman, who were acting strangely and not like "normal parents".

Saturday August 4

?Police launch a second search of Robert Murat's house.

Mrs McCann speaks for the first time of her regret at leaving her daughter on the night she disappeared.

She also discloses that as she tucked Madeleine into bed that night, the little girl said: "Mummy, I've had the best day ever. I'm having lots and lots of fun."

Sunday August 5

?The search of Mr Murat's home is completed, with reports suggesting that no new evidence was found.

Monday August 6

?A Portuguese newspaper reports that British sniffer dogs have found traces of blood on a wall in the apartment where Madeleine went missing.

Detectives now believe it is most likely Madeleine is dead, having been killed accidentally, the Jornal de Noticias claimed.

Wednesday August 8

?DNA tests on a milkshake bottle used by the girl seen in Tongeren prove inconclusive.

But Belgian police say the findings do not rule out that Madeleine was present and say they are still hunting the couple's black Volvo car.

A friend of the McCanns says she is disgusted at an apparent smear campaign against them.

Rachael Oldfield, who ate with the McCanns on the night Madeleine disappeared, said: "I think there are some leaks coming from the police because a lot of what I have read recently has been completely untrue."

Thursday August 9

?The McCanns end their daily routine of taking their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie to the creche at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz.

The move follows concerns about photographers taking pictures of their children and disturbing holidaymakers using the child-minding facility.

Mr Murat's lawyer criticises the McCanns' "strange" behaviour in leaving Madeleine alone on the night she vanished.

Francisco Pagarete also claims people in Praia da Luz want "these bloody McCanns" to return home.

The McCanns insist they will not be "bullied" into leaving Portugal by the growing backlash against them.

Friday August 10

?The McCanns launch a new section of the internet video-sharing website YouTube. Called Don't You Forget About Me, it will be devoted to helping to find missing youngsters such as Madeleine.

Mr McCann says the police investigation could now be "starting with a new slate". He tells the BBC: "There has been a shift in the investigation and the way it was proceeding previously.

"Now if that means we're starting with a new slate, we've always said all scenarios are possible, and we have always done everything to co-operate."

Jornal de Noticias reports that Portuguese police want to question a British man who was on holiday in Praia da Luz at the same time as the McCanns and helped in the search for Madeleine. The man arrived in Portugal on April 28, the same day as the McCanns, and left on May 6, the day they should have flown home, the newspaper says.

Saturday August 11

?100 days since Madeleine disappeared.

The McCanns attend a poignant service of prayers for Madeleine at a church in Praia da Luz.

Portuguese police acknowledge for the first time that Madeleine could be dead. Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa tells the BBC new evidence had given "intensity" to the possibility she was killed. He says the parents are not being considered as suspects.

A McCann family friend says it is "extraordinary" the police had "not had the decency" to tell the couple they now believed Madeleine could be dead before stating it in an on-the-record interview.

Sunday August 12

?Mrs McCann tells Woman's Own magazine that she would rather know her daughter was dead than live in limbo forever.

She says: "Gerry and I have spoken about this and in our heart of hearts we'd both rather know - even if knowing means we have to face the terrible truth that Madeleine might be dead. We both need to know."

Monday August 13

?A British family caught up in the investigation say detectives have cleared them of any link to the case. Solicitor James Gorrod, from Exeter, and his family happened to be in the resort at the same time, but never met the McCanns.

Wednesday August 15

?Blood traces found in the bedroom where Madeleine was sleeping the night the was snatched were not hers, The Times reports. Forensic results show the blood came from a man, it adds.

Thursday August 16

?One of the most senior police officers in Portugal says it is a "strong theory" that Madeleine is dead.

Alipio Ribeiro, national director of the Portuguese judicial police, tells El Mundo that forensic test results on blood traces from the holiday flat are due "imminently". But the quality of the traces found was "not very good" and it was possible they would be inconclusive.

Monday August 20

?Reports suggest the police inquiry has entered a "decisive phase" with detectives poised to carry out a series of new searches. They are also looking again at claims a pensioner disturbed an intruder in her apartment directly above the McCanns' holiday flat just two weeks before Madeleine vanished.

Tuesday August 21

?A friend of the McCanns hits back at smears about him printed in Portuguese newspapers.

Dr Russell O'Brien, 36, was among the group the couple were dining with on the night Madeleine went missing. Portuguese newspapers have printed allegations about him.

In a statement, Dr O'Brien and his wife Jane Tanner said: "These reports in the Portuguese press are completely untrue and extremely hurtful.

"We have spoken to the police today, and have been assured that our status as witnesses has not changed."

Wednesday August 22

?Madeleine may be alive and in Spain, her parents say. The McCanns give interviews to Spain's three top-selling newspapers in which they insist there is a "very real possibility" their daughter has not been killed.

Thursday August 23

?It emerges that police in Spain are investigating a reported sighting of Madeleine. Two women have reported seeing a youngster matching her description with a man at a petrol station near Cartagena, in the south east of the country.

Friday August 24

?Mr McCann attacks a series of police leaks which have fuelled "preposterous" speculation about what happened to his daughter. He says he is disappointed so much information has made its way into the public domain despite Portugal's strict "secrecy of justice" laws.

Saturday August 25

?Mr McCann signals a new scaled-down media campaign to find his missing four-year-old. He says he will be returning to work but insists his daughter may still be alive.

Wednesday August 29

?Mr McCann urges Madeleine's abductor to end the family's 118-day nightmare - if only to assuage "torment" in his or her own soul.

Thursday August 30

?Madeleine's would-be classmates say a poignant prayer for the missing girl on what should have been her first day at school. The four-year-old was due to start at Bishop Ellis Catholic Primary School in Thurmaston, Leicestershire.

Friday August 31

?It emerges that the McCanns are to launch a libel action against a Portuguese newspaper which said police believe they killed their daughter. The action will be against the Tal & Qual paper, based in Oporto.

Thursday September 6

?Mrs McCann arrives at a Portuguese police station to undergo further questioning by detectives.

Mr McCann will be re-interviewed separately by police the next day. They are being interviewed as witnesses. A family friend says the McCanns fear Portuguese detectives are about to name them as suspects in their daughter's disappearance.

First  Previous  5-19 of 19  Next  Last 
 Message 5 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzySent: 2/16/2008 2:14 AM

Madeleine: Sniffer dogs 'found scent of death' on one of the McCanns' friends

Last updated at 09:29am on 26th September 2007

Comments Comments (14)

Friends of the McCanns faced fresh allegations yesterday after it was claimed that sniffer dogs had found the "scent of death" on one of them.

The same police dog which reacted to Mrs McCann's clothes - first causing suspicion to fall on her - was alleged to have smelled "death" on one of the friends who had dinner with the couple the night Madeleine vanished.

Police sources briefed a Portuguese newspaper that two police dogs from South Yorkshire, trained to detect corpses, human remains and microscopic traces of blood, had reacted to some items of clothing.

Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell denied categorically that any such procedure had happened.

The newspaper did not reveal which of the friends' clothing was meant to have triggered the reaction. Police in South Yorkshire refused to comment.

Detectives are writing to British police asking them to re-interview the seven friends the McCanns dined with on the night Madeleine vanished.

Madeleine's parents were dining in a tapas restaurant just yards from the apartment in the Mark Warner Resort in the Algarve, Portugal, when their daughter disappeared.

She had been sleeping inside the apartment with her brother and sister, twins Sean and Amelie.

According to reports from Portugal, all of those dining with the McCanns that night face further police questioning because their accounts of the night's events allegedly clashed.

Leicestershire police have consistently refused to comment on its role in the investigation and directed all questions to Portugal.

A spokeswoman said: "As the inquiry into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann is a Portuguese police investigation it is not appropriate for us to comment on it. Our role is to assist the Portuguese authorities, when and if they request it, with UK based inquiries.

"But because it is a Portuguese investigation, and because of the judicial system there, we are not able to disclose the nature of those inquires."

The seven friends - who, with the McCanns, make up the Tapas Nine - have been steadfast in their loyalty to Madeleine's family.

The group - most of them doctors and professionals - was made up of:

Dr Russell O'Brien, 36

A consultant in acute medicine at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, he knew Gerry McCann from Leicester.

He was on holiday with his partner Jane Tanner and their two young daughters.

At 9.25pm he left the restaurant for around 25 minutes to check on one of the girls, who was ill.

He has been subject to a vicious Portuguese press campaign alleging he was absent for over an hour when Madeleine went missing. He has threatened to sue, insisting: "These reports are completely untrue and extremely hurtful."

Jane Tanner, 37

Dr O'Brien's partner. She arrived late at the tapas bar after treating their sick daughter.

On the way, she passed the McCanns' apartment and saw a man carrying a child. Crucially, her description of the child's clothes matched Madeleine's pink pyjamas.

Dr Matthew Oldfield, 37

Dr Oldfield, an endocrinologist at Kingston Hospital in South-West London, went to check the McCann children at 9 25pm.

But he did not look inside the flat - simply listened from outside to ensure Madeleine and the twins were not crying.

Rachael Oldfield, 36

Dr Oldfield's wife, a former lawyer who is now a recruitment consultant.

She is one of four witnesses who claim to have seen the first suspect, British expat Robert Murat, near the McCanns' flat.

Last month she angrily dismissed reports that police had intercepted phone calls and emails between the McCanns and their friends which contradicted the group's earlier statements.

Mrs Oldfield accused Portuguese police of "throwing mud when we are not able to defend oursleves"

David Payne, 41

Mr Payne is a senior research fellow in cardiovascular sciences at Leicester University

He and his wife and mother-in-law joined the group at 8.55pm.

They are believed to have been the only ones using a baby monitor to check on their two children.

Mr Payne has said: "All these smears and rumours are overshadowing the important thing, which is to get Madeleine back."

Dr Fiona Payne, 34

Mr Payne's wife, she is understood to have told police she saw Mr Murat shortly after Madeleine vanished.

Dr Payne and her husband stayed on in the Algarve to support the McCanns. When the couple were made official suspects, she said: "It's an outrage - a preposterous accusation."

Dianne Webster

Dr Payne's mother. She has given no public interviews.

 Message 6 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzySent: 2/19/2008 4:49 AM

'Gerry is not Madeleine's real father': The Portuguese media's latest attack on the McCanns

Last updated at 01:03am on 12th September 2007

Comments Comments (11)

In the latest of a series of increasingly personal smears against the McCanns, a Portuguese newspaper has claimed that Gerry McCann is not Madeleine's real father.

Sensationalist tabloid '24 horas' claimed that Portuguese police suspected the heart surgeon was not Madeleine's natural father.

With the front page headline, 'Police suspect Gerry is not Maddie's dad', the paper reported detectives were intending to use DNA samples to confirm their suspicions he was not the sperm donor behind the successful IVF treatment that led to her birth.

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Portuguese police have launched a new smear campaign against Kate McCann via the Portuguese media

The allegation is the latest episode in an astonishing smear campaign launched by both Portuguese detectives and the country's media.

Detectives trying to prove that Kate McCann killed her daughter have painted the 39-year-old doctor as a violent mother prone to "hysterical reactions" and losing control.

The allegations were leaked to Portuguese newspapers hours after Mrs McCann and her husband Gerry left the country under a cloud of suspicion about the disappearance of four-year-old Madeleine.

Quoting police sources, the papers alleged that Mrs McCann became "visibly out of control" under questioning by police, and that witnesses had described her as "violent" and "aggressive" towards her children.

It was claimed that she routinely put Madeleine and the two-year-old twins to bed in the family's holiday apartment "while Gerry played tennis and lay by the pool".

The reports also quoted witnesses who have given statements to police.

Pamela Fenn, who was in an apartment above the family on May 3 - the night Madeleine disappeared - is quoted as saying she believed Mrs McCann sometimes became violent and "out of control" in the room below.

She claimed that "the little girl's screams calling for her daddy were very audible".

Another witness is quoted as saying that Mrs McCann "seemed to have moments of aggressiveness towards her children" and that her husband, "though more absent, had more emotional control".

Mrs McCann is said to have strongly denied both these allegations in police interviews.

The damaging picture painted by Portuguese newspapers emerged as police sought to convince the public prosecutor that they have a strong enough case to charge Mrs McCann over the murder or accidental death of her daughter.

The McCanns have repeatedly insisted they are loving parents who had nothing to do with Madeleine's disappearance. They are convinced police are trying to frame them.

But the allegations, strongly denied by the family, risk poisoning public support for the couple and stopping donations to the "Find Madeleine" campaign they set up.

Portugal's secrecy laws prevent police from talking about the investigation, but the leaked material appears to contain specific information about interviews conducted with the McCanns last week.

It was claimed that Mrs McCann became "hysterical" at times during her 13 hours of interrogation and refused to reply to some of the questions.

It was alleged that she offered no explanation for why Madeleine's DNA appeared to have been found in a car the couple hired 25 days after she vanished.

Nor is she said to have given any satisfactory answer to whether she had slapped her daughter, or whether she sedated the children.

The Portuguese police are reported in the newspapers as having concluded that Madeleine was killed by accident.

They believe that her parents then hid her body in their car boot in the compartment for the spare wheel.

The four-year-old's blood was found under the carpet of their hired Renault Scenic in the place of the wheel, the daily Correi da Manha reported.

 Message 7 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzySent: 2/23/2008 11:38 AM
British detectives: Madeleine WAS killed in holiday apartment
Last updated at 11:27am on 5th October 2007
Investigation: Madeleine is dead say British police
British police are working on the theory that Madeleine McCann is dead, it emerged today.

They have become convinced the four-year-old will not be found alive.

Officers in Leicestershire have come to share the view of the Portuguese police after sniffer dogs detected 'the scent of death' in the Algarve holiday apartment from which she vanished.

The two springer spaniels, said to be capable of detecting blood and human remains, were used in the investigation in August.

One picked up a 'scent of death' on items ranging from mother Kate McCann's clothes to Madeleine's favourite soft toy Cuddle Cat.

This evidence, and the alleged discovery of specks of blood in the McCanns' Ocean Club apartment in Praia da Luz, convinced the Policia Judiciaria - Portugal's criminal investigation department - that Madeleine, from Rothley, Leicestershire, died there on 3 May.

It is now thought that officers in Leicestershire have also come round to believing the same theory.

Pain: Kate and Gerry McCann still believe Madeleine can be found alive

A legal source close to the Portuguese police said that evidence gathered by officers in Britain led to Gerry and Kate McCann being named as suspects.

He added that the inquiry, which initially focused on Madeleine being abducted, changed direction after Leicestershire police offered to help by taking sniffer dogs to the apartment.

"The British police came up with the evidence the Portuguese needed to make the McCanns suspects in Madeleine's disappearance," said the source.

"It was the British police's idea to have sniffer dogs search the apartment. That day marked the turn in the case."

A month later, on 7 September, the McCanns, both doctors, were declared official suspects. The source said: "If it wasn't for the involvement of the British police, the McCanns probably would not have been made suspects.

"The Portuguese police had their suspicions two weeks after Madeleine disappeared due to the discrepancies between witness statements.

"The friends, the McCanns and the employees at the Ocean Club had stories that just didn't match up.

"At that stage they couldn't do much with their suspicions. It was only when the British got involved that the inquiry began to move on quite quickly."

Carlos Anjos, president of the Judicial Police Inspectors Union, said Portuguese detectives have an 'excellent' working relationship with British police without 'a single misunderstanding'.

He added that despite all the resources at the McCanns' disposal, their campaign had so far produced 'nothing', as opposed to that of the police who have obtained the only credible evidence.

?A former South African detective with a record of finding missing children was called in by Kate and Gerry McCann.

Danie Krugel pinpointed an area in Praia da Luz where he believed Madeleine had - at least - passed through.

He spent four days searching in July after they were bombarded with emails saying he should be called in.

Mr Krugel said: "I went there to find her alive and according to my test results she was in the area of Praia da Luz. She was not in Spain or Morocco."

As a result of his work, Portuguese police called in British officers to help, a source close to the McCanns said.

 Message 8 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzySent: 3/2/2008 3:45 AM

'Madeleine's gone, Madeleine's gone' - what Kate REALLY said the moment she disappeared

...and what really happened THAT night in Praia de Luz

Last updated at 12:14pm on 20th September 2007

Comments Comments (34)

•Case against Gerry and Kate McCann in meltdown
?McCanns were so distraught they couldn't have faked it'
?British police bugging McCanns' phone calls and emails'

The exact words of Kate McCann in the moments after her daughter disappeared are revealed today for the first time.

Sources close to the McCanns said Madeleine's mother ran back to the tapas bar where the parents were dining shouting: "Madeleine's gone, Madeleine's gone."

Crucially, the new account is significantly different fromthe version given to Portuguese police who are understood to believe Mrs McCann yelled, "they've taken her, they've taken her" as she ran from the family apartment.

Detectives on the Algarve are understood to view this as suspicious because it indicated that Mrs McCann had already ruled out the possibility of Madeleine wandering off, and to regard as possible evidence that she was already engaged in a cover-up.

Witnesses have said, however, Mrs McCann reacted with such horror that they are convinced she could not have faked it.

They also insist that both the child's parents were so utterly distraught it would be impossible for them to have killed the three-year-old several hours earlier.

A source close to the family criticised Portuguese police for making the McCanns official suspects in the case - before speaking to the seven friends on holiday with the couple about whether the McCanns could have faked their distress so convincingly.

The source, who did not wish to be named, said today: "It is farcical that detectives could even make Kate and Gerry suspects without speaking to witnesses at the time. Throughout all of this the police have never come back and asked eyewitnesses whether they could be faking it.

"It's a farce. They were so distressed and distraught there is no way anybody could act like that. Even in a movie, nobody could fake it like that. Their suffering was completely real."

Investigations by the the Evening Standard newspaper have put together the most detailed account yet of events on the night Madeleine went missing from the apartment in Praia da Luz on 3 May.

According to the Standard, the McCanns had not locked the patio door when leaving Madeleine and her twin siblings Sean and Amelie asleep to eat at a tapas bar nearby.

Window shutters had been opened in Madeleine's bedroom, indicating another route through which an abductor may have entered the apartment.

A child spotted being carried away from the scene was not covered in a blanket as previously reported but was wearing pyjamas matching those worn by Madeleine.

The source said: "Kate and Gerry are completely innocent. I am certain Madeleine was abducted and could still be alive."

Mrs McCann's reaction on discovering Madeleine had vanished at 10pm was of utter despair.

Mrs McCann raced from the apartment to the tapas bar, screaming: "Madeleine's gone. Madeleine's gone."

Mr McCann also became distressed and the couple were sobbing and screaming. The source said: "Eyewitnesses are convinced there is absolutely no way they could have been faking it. It would be absolutely impossible."

The McCanns and their friends - known as the Tapas Nine - are then understood to have begun the search for the little girl.

The group - Matthew and Rachael Oldfield, David and Fiona Payne and her mother Dianne Webster, and Russell O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner - were interviewed by police in the immediate aftermath of Madeleine's disappearance and again about a week later.

But none has ever been asked by the Policia Judiciaria, the police force investigating the case, if they believe Mr and Mrs McCann could have killed their daughter earlier in the evening and pretended they only discovered she had gone missing at 10pm.

The source described Mrs McCann as a brilliant mother, adding: "Kate was never hysterical with the kids. She is a great mother. She is really organised. It never got too much for her."

For the first time the events as they unfolded on the day Madeleine went missing have also been revealed.

The children in the party were dropped at the Mark Warner creche in the morning - as they were on every day of the week-long holiday - and picked up at midday.

It is understood the McCanns then took Madeleine and the twins for a picnic lunch and they spent time at the beach and at the pool of the Ocean Club.

At 5.30pm, Mr McCann took part in a social tennis event inside the complex with the other men in the group, all doctors who had first met while working in a hospital together in Leicester.

Meanwhile, the children in the group ate their supper at the Paraiso restaurant close to the beach at Praia da Luz with their parents. The McCanns and their children were not present.

Mr and Mrs McCann were next seen in the tapas bar, where the group dined each evening during the holiday.

They were first at the table, arriving at 8.40pm, and joined by the Oldfields at 8.45pm with the rest of the party following. Mr McCann made his first check on his children at 9.05pm and Mr Oldfield volunteered to go on behalf of the McCanns at 9.30pm.

He entered the apartment through the unlocked patio doors but rather than entering the children's bedroom listened for any noise at the door.

Mr Oldfield could see the twins asleep in their cots sideby-side but Madeleine's bed was out of sight. In fact, the McCanns and their friends believe that by 9.30pm, Madeleine had already been abducted.

A man carrying a child was spotted by Ms Tanner at about 9.15pm walking away from the apartment and in the direction of the villa where Robert Murat, the only other named suspect in the case, lives with his mother.

The source said the friends are convinced Ms Tanner saw Madeleine because she described the pyjamas the girl was wearing before being told the description of those worn by Madeleine.

The source said it was astonishing the McCanns had now been made suspects, based on forensic evidence taken from the apartment and from a hire car rented by the couple 25 days after Madeleine vanished.

The McCanns went on the offensive this week to demolish the forensic evidence, pointing out Madeleine's DNA could easily have got into the hire car via her sandals and other belongings which were transported when the family moved apartments.

 Message 9 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzySent: 3/2/2008 4:24 AM

Madeleine: The missing six hours that baffle police

Where was Kate between last photo and arrival at tapas bar?

Last updated at 12:11pm on 21st September 2007

Comments Comments (7)

Police in the McCann investigation are focusing on a six-hour period before Madeleine disappeared which they believe holds the key to the case.

According to the Daily Mail's sister paper, the Evening Standard, senior Portuguese police source says they cannot confirm the whereabouts of Kate McCann and her daughter between 2.29pm - when the last photograph of the girl was taken - and 8.30pm when her mother arrived at a tapas bar for dinner.


The only witness to Mrs McCann's whereabouts is her husband, police sources said. A senior Policia Judiciaria source said Mrs McCann's afternoon is at the centre of their inquiry. Madeleine and the two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie, were dropped off that morning at the creche in the Ocean Club apartment complex as they were every day of the week-long holiday. They were picked up at midday and it is understood the McCanns, both named by Portuguese-police as suspects in their daughter's disappearance, then took Madeleine and the twins for a picnic lunch. They spent time at the beach before returning to their hotel.

Detectives say that the last picture of Madeleine was taken by her mother at 2.29pm that day as she played by the pool in the apartment complex. According to the Policia Judiciaria source, Mrs McCann has told officers she was at the pool all afternoon while her husband took part in a tennis event inside the complex with friends.

The source told the Standard: "Kate said she was at the pool side all afternoon but we are not satisfied with this.

"Until now we have no witnesses to confirm that. This is the main focus of our investigation at the moment. Where was Kate between the time she took the picture of Madeleine and the time she went to dinner with her husband in the tapas bar?

"This is a crucial six hours that as yet has no explanation. We now believe she could have gone missing during this period."

The McCanns and their friends - Matthew and Rachael Oldfield, David and Fiona Payne and her mother Dianne Webster, and Russell O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner - dined at the tapas bar in the apartment complex each evening during the holiday.

On 3 May the McCanns were first at the table, arriving at 8.40pm. They were joined by the Oldfields at 8.45pm with the rest of the party following. Mr McCann made his first check on his children at 9.05pm and Mr Oldfield volunteered to go on behalf of the McCanns at 9.30pm. He entered the apartment through the unlocked patio doors but rather than entering the children's bedroom listened for any noise at the door.

Mrs McCann's was the next to check on the children at 10pm. It was then that she raised the alarm.

According to the Portuguese police source, none of the friends remember seeing Madeleine since midday that day and none could confirm that Mrs McCann was at the pool for most of the afternoon either.

A man carrying a child was spotted by Ms Tanner at about 9.15pm walking away from the apartment and in the direction of the villa where Robert Murat, the only other named suspect in the case, lives with his mother.

The McCanns are said to be convinced that Ms Tanner saw Madeleine because she described the pyjamas the girl was wearing before being told the description of those worn by Madeleine and they matched.

But the police source said he was unsure of the reliability of the statement. He said: "These are people who spent a lot of time with their friends yet no one saw Madeleine or Kate for much of that day.

"We are very doubtful that Madeleine disappeared when the McCanns were at dinner. It is highly likely she was gone at some point during those six hours we know nothing about. As far as we are concerned Gerry and Kate are suspects in this investigation."

Previous reports have suggested that the McCanns and their children were with the rest of the party at the Paradiso restaurant at 6pm close to the beach at Praia da Luz. But friends say the family had not joined them that day.

Mark Williams-Thomas, a former British detective who worked on the Sarah Payne murder inquiry, said: "The last person to see Madeleine is absolutely vital to this investigation.

"If the police are saying the last picture of Madeleine is the last time she was seen, then they have to establish what went on in the hours in between this and when she was reported missing. This could definitely be the focus of the inquiry."

He said that if Madeleine was abducted, he believes she would have been snatched after wandering out of the apartment. "I firmly believe she was not taken from the apartment," said Mr Williams-Thomas. "If this is an abduction, she must have woken up, wandered off looking for her parents and was kidnapped by someone who was presented with an easy opportunity to snatch a child."

 Message 10 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzySent: 3/16/2008 4:49 PM

We DON'T believe Madeleine is dead, Gerry McCann insists

Last updated at 00:37am on 18th October 2007

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The parents of Madeleine McCann do not believe their daughter is "probably" dead, despite reports saying they do, they have insisted.

Yesterday the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell stated: "Kate and Gerry are realistic enough to know that there is a probability she is dead."

However later yesterday Gerry McCann insisted that while the couple are of course aware of the possibility, they still could not accept it.

"Contrary to some other reports Kate and I do NOT accept that Madeleine is 'probably' dead," Mr McCann wrote on his blog yesterday.

"We know it is a possibility, however the fact there is no evidence Madeleine has been seriously harmed gives us ongoing hope that she will be found alive."

Kate and Gerry McCann have always clung to the hope the four-year-old will be found alive, and have never conceded that - statistically - Madeleine was probably dead within hours of her disappearance from their Algarve holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3.

Yesterday Mr Mitchell added: "They have not given up hope that she could still be alive. But human nature is that you always fear the worst and they need to know what has happened."

The couple will continue to campaign for their daughter's safe return, Mr Mitchell said, and an £80,000 poster campaign was launched yesterday to target remote villages in Southern Portugal and Spain.

Despite the widespread publicity surrounding her disappearance, Mr and Mrs McCann believe there are still some people who have not heard of her.

Portuguese police yesterday visited a reservoir known as the Barragem da Bravura, or Wilderness Reservoir, 15 miles from Praia da Luz.

The new head of the investigation, Paulo Rebelo, is said to feel the 2.5mile wide reservoir was not examined properly in May, when up to 300 officers searched for Madeleine.

A computer used by Gerry McCann has been seized by detectives who want to see which websites were visited after Madeleine disappeared, the Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha said yesterday.

Friends of the McCanns said the computer was used only to store a database of journalists' numbers.

 Message 11 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzySent: 3/23/2008 2:03 PM

The last picture of Madeleine: Just eight hours later she was gone

By PAUL HARRIS and SAM GREENHILL - More by this author » Last updated at 16:40pm on 25th May 2007

Comments Comments (41)

She must have been having so much fun.

Chuckling with delight, Madeleine McCann dangles her feet in a pool and poses for a holiday snapshot.

Less than eight hours after it was taken, Madeleine disappeared. So yesterday this became the last, poignant picture of the missing four-year-old - released by her grief-stricken parents in their desperate campaign to bring her home.

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This newly released photograph of Madeleine shows her laughing with her family on the day of her disappearance

It shows Madeleine with her father Gerry and two-year-old sister Amelie, sitting beside the pool in their Algarve holiday apartment complex. Her mother Kate is behind the camera with Amelie's twin brother Sean.

It could hardly have captured her character more perfectly - a cheeky little Miss in a pink summer dress and floppy hat, stealing the limelight as usual with that trademark smile.

That was at 2.29pm on May 3, a few days after the family checked in to an apartment in Praia da Luz and just nine days before her fourth birthday.


Kate McCann with Sean yesterday

And last night, another picture of Madeleine was projected onto London's iconic Marble Arch to bring her plight to the attention of the city.

During the day of her disappearance they had all gone for a walk, played tennis, and taken some more snapshots for the family album before relaxing by the pool.

Some time between 9.10pm and 10pm, an abductor is assumed to have snatched her from her bed while her parents dined nearby.

Three weeks on, there has been not a single trace of her whereabouts, no breakthrough in the investigation, and no clear indication that she is even still alive.

In the evening her parents gave her a bath, took out her trendy hair bead and washed her hair. Then they tucked her up alongside Sean and Amelie before kissing them all goodnight.

Mr and Dr McCann - he is a consultant cardiologist, she a GP - remain convinced she is alive, and have vowed that they cannot even consider going home to Leicestershire until they find her.

But yesterday, for the first time during the remarkable campaign they are running in parallel with the police operation, they made known their frustration at the investigation's lack of progress.

The 38-year-old couple met Portuguese police chiefs to express their concern at the "apparent slowness" of the hunt.

A source close to the family said: "At every stage throughout this they have been feeding their own questions and concerns back to the investigating authorities through British police and in turn the Portuguese authorities.

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A photograph of Madeleine McCann is projected onto London's iconic Marble Arch

"While they remain content with the overall thrust of the investigation they do at times hope that their questions and concerns are addressed more quickly."

Yesterday the latest Portuguese initiative - a plea to the kidnapper from the Bishop of the Algarve - stalled almost immediately.

Bishop D. Manuel Neto Quintas appealed to Madeleine's abductor to phone him to arrange Madeleine's return - but he failed to supply a phone number.

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Madeleine's father Gerry with her twin sister Amelie (centre) and Madeleine (right) as the family relaxes by the pool. Hours later their holiday would turn into a living nightmare that appears to have no end in sight

In other developments, new leads have emerged from more than 300 holidaymakers' photographs that have been sent in to an appeal for pictures that might reveal the abductor.

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Gerry McCann made a moving visit to a shrine in Madeleine's honour in their hometown of Rothley, Leicestershire, recently

Officers from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre had appealed to tourists who visited Praia da Luz in the two weeks prior to the kidnap to send in their holiday pictures.

Strangers in the background of pictures are being cross-referenced with an image of known paedophiles using facial recognition software.

A spokesman for CEOP would not comment on the detail of the new leads.

It also emerged that the McCanns have been offered the use of private jets to make trips around Europe in their continued campaign to find Madeleine.

Early discussions are under way with Warner Brothers cinemas to put posters in every cinema and to play an appeal video of Madeleine before every movie.

Madeleine McCann

Frustration is growing as the weeks slip by in the search for Madeleine

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 Message 12 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzySent: 3/23/2008 2:06 PM

Madeline three weeks on: theories and false trails

Last updated at 10:57am on 25th May 2007

Comments Comments (9)

Three weeks after Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal the investigation remains mired in speculation and hearsay.

Dozens of theories surround the four-yearold's disappearance from the Mark Warner resort in Praia da Luz, but many of the basic facts about the night of 3 May have yet to be confirmed by Portuguese police.

In the absence of even the most basic information, journalists have been forced to piece together details of the police investigation. There are several theories.


Madeleine (right) with her family at the resort where she disappeared

Kidnapped to order

In the week after Madeleine went missing, the first theory in the Portuguese tabloids was that she had been kidnapped "por encomenda" - taken on the orders of a paedophile network.

Sightings around the world

Portuguese police have received reports of sightings of Madeleine from around the world.

Last Friday came reports of an alleged sighting of Madeleine by Marie Olli, a tourist holidaying in Marrakech. She said she saw the child with a scruffy man in his thirties at a petrol station.

The girl, wearing pyjamas similar to Madeleine's, was heard to say: "Can I see Mummy soon?" Portuguese police have flown to Morocco to investigate.

Stolen out of revenge

Police sources allegedly told reporters they believed Madeleine might have been taken by someone who wanted revenge on Kate or Gerry McCann. Local newspaper reports made veiled suggestions the couple were involved in a series of relationships that had left somebody wanting revenge on them.

Sleep walking

Many local residents in Praia da Luz believe Madeleine may have walked out of her ground-floor bedroom into the street, either because she was sleep walking or looking for her parents. Once outside they think she was either taken by a passerby, or more bizarrely, wandered a few hundred yards down the street to where roadworks were taking place. One theory is that she may have fallen into deep holes dug in the road. However detectives have now largely discounted the idea that Madeleine simply woke up and wandered into the streets. They say a girl of her age walking alone would probably have been spotted by English or Portuguese adults and taken home.

Of these theories, police believe that kidnap to order and abduction by a single or group of paedophiles is the most likely.

Officers believe she may have been smuggledout of the country within hours after her abduction and are placing increasing importance on sightings of her around the world, particularly the alleged sighting in Marrakech. Little credibility is given to the theory that Madeleine was kidnapped as an act of revenge.

A police source said: "The most likely theory is that she was taken by a single abductor who targeted her and had watched her for days. The other theories are all less likely."

 Message 13 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzySent: 3/23/2008 2:10 PM

Family friend 'may have witnessed' abduction of Madeleine

Last updated at 17:18pm on 26th May 2007

Comments Comments (15)

?Madeleine's parents may have threatened legal action to get description released

?Police insist 'We are confident we will find her'

?Hunt on for white man, 35-40 years old, 5ft 10ins tall

?Mr McCann says they had an 'amicable and very constructive' meeting with police

?He believes sighting of man is 'significant and relevant to Madeleine's abduction'

A friend of Madeleine McCann's parents may have seen her being carried away from her holiday apartment the night she vanished, it's been was revealed.

A "witness" reported seeing a man carrying "an object that could have been...a child" in the Algarve village of Praia Da Luz at 9.30pm on May 3 - while Madeleine's parents were finishing dinner nearby.

A source indicated that the sighting - the most striking so far in the case - was by a female member of the couple's party who has not been named.

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Police are searching for a white man carrying an object that could have been a child on the night that Madeleine disappeared

Policia Judiciaria (PJ) finally released a description of the man seen that night in the face of possible legal action by Madeleine's parents.

He was white, 35 to 40, of medium build and 5ft 10in, with hair left slightly longer around the neck, wearing a dark jacket, light beige trousers and dark shoes.

The information, likely to have been released early on as a matter of course in other countries, had to be sanctioned by the public prosecutor.

It followed an "amicable" meeting with senior Portuguese police and the McCanns believed to have taken place yesterday.

The McCanns welcomed the police's decision to release details of the suspect.

This afternoon, they emerged from their apartment - Mrs McCann still clutching Madeleine's pink cuddles - to make a statement to the waiting media.

Mr McCann said they had had an "amicable and very constructive" meeting with police.

"We very much welcome the decision of the police authorities to release details of a man seen by witnesses here in Praia Da Luz on Thursday, May 3, the night of Madeleine's disappearance.

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Gerry McCann (above with wife Kate) said: 'We feel sure that this sighting of a man with what appeared to be a child in his arms is both significant and relevant to Madeleine's abduction'

"The release of this important information followed an earlier meeting we had with senior police officers.

"We feel sure that this sighting of a man with what appeared to be a child in his arms is both significant and relevant to Madeleine's abduction."

He urged anyone who may have seen the suspect to come forward to police.

"Any information no matter how unimportant it might be could be vital in helping the Portuguese police to find our daughter.

"We wish for nothing more than to bring Madeleine home with us safe and well."

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The McCanns: 'We want Madeleine back, and people can still influence that'

The couple had discussions with British Ambassador John Buck and UK police at their apartment yesterday.

The PJ has been heavily criticised in the British media over the past three weeks for not releasing more details of suspicious sightings in the face of the country's strict "secret of justice" laws which forbid the disclosure of information about an investigation.

It is thought the PJ were given a description of the man within 24 hours of the abduction but have not released it for that reason.

The description - which tallies closely to details being circulated at the time but never publicised - sounds similar to the chief suspect in the case, Robert Murat. But when asked about this, Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa replied: "There are many people who fit this description."

Officers toured shops and bars in the village with a basic description in the days after Madeleine was snatched as well as one or more images of the man.

But facial features were scant and one man described an e-fit he was shown by plain clothes officers as like "an egg with hair".

The announcement was welcomed as an apparent "new development" in the case by the McCanns.

The McCanns are convinced that the figure seen being carried was Madeleine.

Mr and Mrs McCann, both 38, were having dinner at a tapas bar facing their holiday apartment when the abductor entered their apartment.

The description released is similar to that included in reports that a man was seen dragging a girl in a road towards the marina at nearby Lagos.

The marina was the focus of aquatic searches in the days after Madeleine's disappearance.

Today the McCanns gave their first interviews and spoke of their feelings of "guilt" at not being there when their daughter was taken.

But they defended themselves against accusations that they were irresponsible, outlining how they had an arrangement with other parents in their group to continually check on the children throughout the evening.

They compared the arrangement, eating across the pool within sight of the apartment, as like being in the back garden of a big house.

The police said they were still waiting to hear from some of the international agencies involved in trying to find Madeleine.

When asked about a sighting in Marrakech, Chief Inspector Sousa said nothing had been ruled out.

At the police press conference, Inspector Sousa said the description of the man was given by one witness involved in the case, but would not elaborate.

He said part of the reason the description had been issued was to try to rule out people as well as finding Madeleine's abductor.

He defended the time it had taken to release the description, saying it was down to the investigators leading the case as to when information was released.

When asked again why it was not released earlier, he replied: "Because we did not feel it was necessary at that time."

Police are also waiting for the results of forensic examinations which are continuing.

?Messages for the McCanns can be sent to

?The official Find Madeleine website can be found at

?The Crimestoppers number for those calling from Portugal is 0044 1883 731 336 or information can be passed direct to the Portuguese police on 00 351 282 405 400.

?The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and Virtual Global Taskforce appeal is at and

 Message 14 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzySent: 3/23/2008 2:12 PM

Madeleine witnesses 'may have mistaken this friend of the McCanns for Murat' on night she disappeared

By VANESSA ALLEN - More by this author » Last updated at 08:10am on 8th January 2008

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Doubt was cast on the evidence of several key witnesses in the Madeleine McCann disappearance last night.

Those who said they saw suspect Robert Murat outside the family's holiday apartment on the night she vanished may have named the wrong man, it was revealed.

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Murat mix-up? Witnesses who say they saw suspect Robert Murat (right) outside Madeleine McCann's apartment on the night she vanished may actually have seen David Payne (left) a friend of the McCanns

Detectives believe the witnesses who said they saw the British expat could have confused him with a friend of Kate and Gerry McCann, David Payne, who was out searching for the missing three-year-old.

If true, the claim could force police into a rethink of their eight-month investigation.

Mr Murat, 34, has insisted he spent the night of May 3 at home in the villa he shares with his mother Jennifer, 72, less than 100 yards from the McCanns' holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal. His mother said he never left the house.

But a series of witnesses have given statements claiming to have seen him around the Ocean Club apartment complex in the hours after Mrs McCann, 39, raised the alarm.

They include three friends of the McCanns - Russell O'Brien, Fiona Payne and Rachael Oldfield - who later confronted Mr Murat at a police station after he was made a suspect and said he offered to help them search that night.

Mark Warner nanny Charlotte Pennington said she saw him hanging around outside the Ocean Club's reception at about 10pm.

British holidaymaker Jayne Jensen, an unnamed British barrister and two unidentified British tourists all claim to have seen him around the complex that night.

But none of them knew the 34-year-old property consultant before that night.

Police are examining the theory that they could have confused him with Mr Payne.

The medical researcher, who is 41, was searching around the complex that night and - in a street lit by orange streetlights - could easily have been mistaken for Mr Murat.

Mr Murat's lawyer Francisco Pagarete told the Daily Mail: "Robert has always said the witnesses were mistaken. He was not there that night."

A source close to the inquiry said: "The similarity between the two has rendered many witness accounts virtually worthless."

But he added: "What is baffling is that Mr Payne's wife and two of his friends are among those who claim to have seen Mr Murat outside the McCanns' apartment that night. You'd think a wife would recognise her own husband."

The Paynes were unavailable for comment. They are due to be reinterviewed by British police on behalf of their Portuguese counterparts within weeks.

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Madeleine mystery: The case is no closer to being resolved eight months after the four-year-old went missing

Detectives want to question all seven of the friends who were on holiday with the McCanns about alleged contradictions in their accounts of the events of May 3.

Mr and Mrs McCann's spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "We are confident the accounts of witnesses were given in good faith."

Mr Murat's girlfriend Michaela Walczuch was yesterday forced to deny claims she had been named as a police suspect in the case.

The Portuguese newspaper 24 Horas claimed the mother-of-one, 34, had been made an 'arguido', or formal suspect, alongside Mr Murat and the McCanns.

Lawyer Mr Pagarete insisted he had been misquoted by the tabloid when discussing her. Police refused to confirm or deny the report.

A second newspaper, Correio da Manha, claimed tests by the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham had proved DNA found in the McCanns' holiday apartment and hire car was Madeleine's.

Such a finding would support the Portuguese police theory that Madeleine died in an accident in her parents' care and that they faked her abduction. The McCanns deny any involvement in her disappearance.

An FSS spokesman said, however: "Tests are still being carried out. No final report has been submitted to the Portuguese authorities."

 Message 15 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzySent: 3/23/2008 3:50 PM

Madeleine: Gordon Brown 'snubs request for No 10 meeting with McCanns'

Last updated at 20:45pm on 10th December 2007

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The parents of missing Madeleine McCann have demanded a high-level meeting with Gordon Brown amid fears the Government has abandoned their case, it emerged today.

Kate and Gerry reportedly made a desperate plea to the PM to arrange a private summit with their legal team and wealthy benefactors two weeks ago.

But the request is said to have been turned down by Number 10 who will only offer the McCanns a low-level consular meeting.

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'Don't turn you're back on us': Kate and Gerry McCann feel let down by Gordon Brown

While Kate and Gerry, both 39, had no plans to attend the talks, their lawyers Kingsley Napley and millionaire supporters Brian Kennedy, Sir Richard Branson and Stephen Winyard are apparently keen to update the PM on the strength of their defence.

The couple's representatives, dubbed Team McCann, have also contacted the Foreign Office and the Home Office after growing concerns that the Government has turned its back on the family's plight.

After Madeleine's disappearance on May 3, Mr Brown pledged his support to the four-year-old's parents during a series of phone calls with Gerry.

But as soon as the pair were named "arguidos" - official suspects - by Portuguese police on September 7 all lines of communication were closed.

Critics of the McCanns have accused them of manipulating their high profile to gain Government "protection".

Last night a friend of the McCanns told the Sunday Express that Mr Brown had gone back on his promise to help them.

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Vanished: Brown had originally pledged his support after Madeleine disappeared

He said: "The lawyers and their backers are keen to hold talks with a Cabinet minister so we can show them how much progress has been made.

"The request was made two weeks ago and so far all we have been offered is a meeting with the consulate.

"All we want to do is update them on our position.

"Kate and Gerry do not need protection because they have done nothing wrong."

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has also snubbed the family.

One reason Mr Brown may be concerened is that the McCanns could still be charged over their daughter's fate.

The Prime Minister was due to visit Portugal on Thursday to sign the EU Constitution but speculation is mounting that Foreign Secretary David Miliband may attend in his place.

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Abandoned: The PM suggested a low-level consular meeting instead of a summit at No10

Mr Miliband, who first became involved with the McCann case in June, is another who has remained silent without officially withdrawing his support.

Kate and Gerry, of Rothlet Leicestershire, first appealed for his help in September claiming they feared that the "shocking injustice" would stop detectives finding out what happened to their daughter.

Mr Winyard, who owns the luxury Stobo Vastle spa in Peebleshire, Scotland, and pledged £100,000 to help the McCanns meet their legal costs, attacked the PM's lack of support.

He said: "This Government was elected to look after its citizens and it's a fundamental principle of our legal system that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

"With that in mind I would strongly urge that Gordon Brown accede to our request."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "We don't comment on ongoing cases."

 Message 16 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzySent: 3/23/2008 3:56 PM

Madeleine: Brown quizzes Portuguese PM about bungled police inquiry

By VANESSA ALLEN and JAMES CHAPMAN - More by this author » Last updated at 10:44am on 19th October 2007

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Gordon Brown has raised concerns about the investigation into Madeleine McCann's disappearance with his Portuguese counterpart.

Mr Brown discussed the police inquiry with the premier Jose Socrates during private talks in Lisbon, where the pair are attending the EU summit.

Mr Brown said he wanted to be assured "that the police authorities are taking the actions that are necessary and there's proper cooperation between the British and Portuguese police".


Assurances: Gordon Brown met Portuguese premier Jose Socrates in private yesterday in Lisbon to discuss Madeleine McCann


Madeleine: Her disappearance has attracted attention from world leaders

The pair previously discussed the case in July, when Mr Socrates assured Mr Brown "everything possible" was being done to find the missing four-year-old.

Mr Brown's involvement in the case has sparked resentment in Portugal in the past.

One detective accused parents Gerry and Kate McCann of creating "constant interruptions and distractions" after it emerged they had been keeping him personally updated on developments over Madeleine, who went missing in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz on May 3.

The policeman said: "It is amazing to me that people in high positions are getting involved. I can't think of any case in Portugal where this has happened."

A source in the Portugese police admitted yesterday they have no evidence against the McCanns, who are still official suspects.

A high-ranking detective in the investigation told the Portuguese newspaper 24 Horas: "The truth is, nothing which allows us to make a definite accusation against the McCanns has yet emerged."

It also emerged yesterday that Mrs McCann is having haunting visions of Madeleine at night.

Her mother Susan Healey said: "She told me she was unable to sleep a couple of nights ago and I said, 'Did the twins wake you up?' She said, 'No, Madeleine came'."

 Message 17 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzySent: 3/26/2008 4:05 AM

Madeleine and the missing hour: how often did the McCanns check on their children?

As the hunt for Madeleine hits 100 days, emotions run high

By SUE REID - More by this author » Last updated at 16:31pm on 11th August 2007

Sitting beside a swimming pool in the Algarve on that May evening Gerry and Kate McCann were enjoying themselves. The tapas bar of the Mark Warner holiday resort in Praia da Luz was buzzing with holidaymakers and it was quiz night.

The McCanns were favourites to win the contest organised by the resort's aerobics teacher Najova Chekaya. After all, the two doctors had brains on their side. Around their table were seven friends from England, three of them also doctors and one a top medical research fellow.

The group of nine were holidaying in Portugal and wanted to have a good time. As one of the doctors, Matthew Oldfield, was to recall: "We drank. So what! We were on holiday."

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But 50 yards away on the other side of the swimming pool, the group's children were sleeping alone. In the bedroom of one ground floor apartment was Madeleine, the McCanns' three-year-old daughter.

Her twin brother and sister, Sean and Amelie, two, lay in cots either side of her. They had been tucked up at 7pm. Half an hour later the McCanns had joined their friends for dinner at the tapas bar.

What happened next has mystified the world.

At 10pm Kate McCann got up from the table to check on her children. She slipped in through the patio windows to find the twins safely asleep - and her daughter's bed empty.

In tears and calling out Madeleine's name, she ran back to her friends to tell them: "They've taken her, they've taken her."

Madeleine has not been seen in the 100 days since May 3. Last night Portuguese police said they were concentrating on what they call the "missing hour" before Mrs McCann found her daughter gone. They say it is possible that she was kidnapped after her father last checked her at 9.05pm and her mother's terrible discovery.

Meanwhile the campaign to keep the public aware of Madeleine's name goes on. It has involved her Roman Catholic parents visiting the Pope.

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And, on the instructions of JK Rowling, posters of Madeleine were distributed at British bookshops as they opened for the sale of the new Harry Potter book.

This week the donations from the public to a Madeleine fund, financing the PR campaign and global search for the little girl from Rothley in Leicestershire, was nudging £1 million.

More than 50 million people visited the Find Madeleine website in the 48 hours after its launch.

Nothing like this has ever been seen before, and probably never will again.

The campaign has been organised by the McCanns, both 38. Today they believe their daughter is still alive and was abducted by a stranger. Whether the motive was paedophilia, the sale of Madeleine for adoption or even the trade of her organs, they have no idea. Nor do they speculate.

As Mr McCann wrote on his website the other day: "The Portuguese police have assured us on numerous occasions that they are looking for Madeleine and not a corpse."

Yet this week attitudes towards the McCanns underwent a seismic shift, the questions growing more aggressive by the day. The scenario of a small girl being kidnapped without warning on a spring holiday in a family friendly resort is now the subject of lurid debate - particularly in Portugal.

Disturbing questions are being asked about the behaviour of the McCanns and their friends.

The catalyst was the discovery this week, by British police with sniffer dogs, of specks of blood on a wall in the family's apartment.

The blood is now being analysed in this country, raising unpalatable speculation that Madeleine was killed where she slept and was then carried off to the beach or bundled into a car boot.

The reluctance of Gerry and Kate McCann or their friends to speak publicly, or in any detail, about the minutiae of the evening has fuelled the controversy, although they insist it is illegal in Portugal to comment on any police investigation.

In another uncomfortable development the Portuguese press, including the respected newspaper Dairio de Noticias, has claimed that interviews given by the McCann group to police contain discrepancies. Their stories and the timings of their movements on the night do not tally.

Furthermore, emails and phone messages sent between the group - and intercepted by the PolÌcia Judiciaria and British detectives helping the inquiry - are reported to contain conversations that contradict earlier statements.

But the spotlight is equally falling on the seemingly woeful response of the Policia Judiciaria. They only arrived two hours after the alarm was raised. A British expert on child abduction who visited the resort a few days later said it the worst preserved crime scene he had ever witnessed.

Twenty people - including resort workers and other holidaymakers - are believed to have entered the McCanns' apartment after the disappearance. The patio windows at the rear, and the closest point to the tapas bar, were touched by searchers.

The patio had been left open by the McCanns in case of fire and, it appears, so that they could easily check the children.

But what of Madeleine's bedroom? It was situated next to the apartment's front door which is around the corner and a further 30 yards on, next to a road into the resort and a busy carpark.

Notably the bedroom, completely out of the sight of the tapas bar, had heavy, metal window shutters. These were also contaminated in the search.

Even her bedtime toy Cuddle Cat - which is now carried by Mrs McCann - was not isolated for forensic analysis.

Local newspapers and television have criticised the McCann group, who left their children alone for two and a half hours as they wined and dined.

One question being asked is why didn't the parents put their children in the evening creche which is open until 11.30pm? Why didn't they hire a babysitter, bookable at the Mark Warner reception desk?

In a further twist, locals now claim that Madeleine did not always settle well. One evening they allege she ran away into the paths between the apartments, hiding for half an hour when it was time for bed.

Whatever the truth, to begin to unravel the mystery one has to go back to the seemingly carefree days at the start of the holiday.

Gerry and Kate McCann and their friends are like-minded people, with children of similar ages. And they knew each other in the Midlands. Mr McCann is a consultant cardiologist at a Leicester's Glenfield Hospital and his wife is a GP.

Until recently Dr Oldfield worked at Leicester general hospital. David Payne is a senior research fellow in cardiovascular sciences at Leicester University and his wife, Fiona, is a doctor. Another of the holidaymakers, Dr Russell O'Brien, also worked at Leicester University before moving this summer.

Recently they all went to Mark Warner's in Greece where they had devised a plan of leaving their children to sleep while they had dinner nearby.

As Mr McCann explained: "The distance is so small, it was so close it was almost like having dinner in your garden. What we were doing was rigorous with multiple people checking at regular intervals."

When asked if Madeleine might have wandered out through the unlocked patio windows towards the swimming pool, or beyond to the beach, the McCanns dismiss it out of hand.

"We're absolutely certain. We double and treble-checked and have no doubt she was taken," said Mr McCann. Yet another scenario is now emerging in the local press. It is built on the recollections of other guests and workers at the resort.

The official story from the McCanns is this. Mr McCann said he checked on his three children at 9.05pm. He noticed that a door in the apartment which had been left shut was ajar.

He thought nothing of it but it may have indicated that a kidnapper was already there. But his daughter was fast asleep so he went back to the tapas bar.

Another of the group, Jane Tanner, says she took her turn 10 minutes later. She claimed later to police that she saw a dark-haired man of about 35 carrying a child as she walked back to the bar afterwards but thought nothing of it.

Soon after her return - at 9.45pm - Dr Oldfield did his round of the bedrooms. In a first statement to police, it is unclear if he actually went inside the McCann flat.

Indeed, one scenario is that many of the checks of the children were not visible, but involved listening at doors or even from outside the apartments.

However, in a second statement Dr Oldfield insists he did look in Madeleine's bedroom, believes he saw her there, and that there was light coming in through the windows as though the heavy shutters had been opened.

Again, he thought little of it until afterwards. Then, of course, it was Mrs McCann's turn. She found Madeleine gone.

Madeleine's aunt Trish Cameron recalled that she received a call later that night from her younger brother, Mr McCann, who told her: "I went back to check the children at nine o'clock. They were all sound asleep, windows shut, shutters shut."

Mrs Cameron related that when Mrs McCann went to the two apartment a little under an hour later: "The shutters had been jemmied open. They think someone must have come in the window and gone out of the front door with Madeleine."

But what is now perturbing Portuguese police is how could she be abducted when the McCann group were checking so often? Or have reports inadvertently exaggerated how vigilant the parents really were?

A worker at the tapas bar says that only a tall man, believed to be Russell O'Brien, got up from the table during the entire evening. Of course, this witness might be wrong. A busy barman could not have eyes on the McCann party for two and a half hours.

And what of Najova Chekaya, the aerobics teacher running the quiz? She was invited over to the McCann table by Mr McCann himself when the game ended at 9.30. She stayed for half an hour. She later claimed to friends that nobody left the table.

There is another conundrum too. It concerns the sighting by Jane Tanner of the man carrying a child. He was wearing beige trousers and smart black shoes. Her report is taken seriously by police.

Yet a British holidaymaker, Jeremy Wilkins, has given a deposition that does not support her evidence. He knew Mr McCann because he played tennis with him, and was walking his eight-month-old son in the night air when the drama unfolded.

He says that he met Mr McCann, who had come out of his apartment at 9.05pm, and had a word with him. Soon after that Jane Tanner would have crossed paths with Mr Wilkins and his baby.

Mr Wilkins says he saw no man carrying a child or Jane Tanner herself. "It was a very narrow path and I think it would have been almost impossible for anyone to walk by without me noticing," he said.

So today the questions remain. Was Madeleine kidnapped or killed? Or unwatched, did she simply walk out and get lost? How could there be a break in with a jemmy through metal shutters without waking the twins or alerting a passerby?

Someone, somewhere must know the answers.

 Message 18 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzySent: 3/26/2008 4:10 AM

Madeleine's parents forced to take twins out of creche to avoid 'upsetting' holidaymakers

Last updated at 17:33pm on 10th August 2007

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The parents of Madeleine McCann have been forced to stop taking their two-year-old twins to a local creche to avoid 'upsetting' other holidaymakers, they revealed today.

The anguished parents of missing Madeleine were dealt this latest blow after it was revealed that locals call them "those bloody McCanns."

Matters reached crisis point when Madeleine's mother Kate could not get out of the Mark Warner Ocean Club with twins Sean and Amelie, because of a media scrum.

The crush at the doors to the creche led to the British holiday company asking the McCanns to stay away.

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The couple have now withdrawn their children from the childcare facility.

Kate said helplessly: "We are trapped. What can we do?"

The couple are clearly hurt that their children have been effectively barred from the creche, but they, as always, have tried to be pragmatic.

Gerry, 39, said: "It has impacted on other holidaymakers."

"It is not considerate to other people's children and people were getting upset.

"They have paid a lot of money to come to a lovely resort with their children."

He went on: "Mark Warner has been incredibly supportive of us throughout but they have come under a bit of pressure and we agreed not to go for a while.

"They offered us alternative arrangements, but we haven't taken them up yet."

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The McCanns have been trying desperately hard to maintain a normal routine for their twins - and taking them to the creche each day was part of this.

The villa where the couple are staying with the twins, on the outskirts of the holiday resort of Praia da Luz, is now home to an encampment of Portugese photographers and TV crews.

Because of the "huge gaggle" of media outside the family's new accommodation there were concerns about photographers and film crews taking pictures of the twins and disturbing holidaymakers at the creche.

A spokesman for Mark Warner said: "The actual decision was made by the local manager and the McCanns that it would be best for both sides if they didn't use the creche until this intense focus moves away from them."

The 100th day since little Madeleine disappeared will be marked in Britain tomorrow by events, prayers and pledges of support for the Madeleine campaign from sportsmen, including Jonny Wilkinson, Frankie Dettori and Everton Football Club.

But in Praia da Luz, the McCanns will spend the day "quietly", only emerging to attend a special church service in the resort.

Madeleine disappeared on May 3 after Mr and Mrs McCann left their three children asleep in their apartment while they ate with friends at a nearby tapas restaurant.

 Message 19 of 19 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nicknametin-lizzySent: 3/26/2008 10:10 AM

Portuguese police admit: 'We've got NO evidence against the McCanns'

Last updated at 19:00pm on 18th October 2007

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Portuguese police have reportedly admitted that they have no evidence allowing them to accuse the parents of missing Madeleine McCann of any crime.

A police source, who was described as "responsible", told the Portuguese newspaper 24Horas that, in truth, there is still insufficient evidence to formally accuse the McCanns of any wrongdoing.

However the paper also quoted a source who insisted that all evidence still pointed towards the McCanns' involvement in the disappearance of their daughter.

The quotes appeared to come from two different unnamed sources. Neither source elaborated.

However the implication seemed to be that while all evidence is currently, in the eyes of the investigation, pointing towards the McCanns' involvement, that evidence is still not enough to make any formal charges - an implication supported by the emphasis police are still placing on finding Madeleine's body.

The discovery of the body remains the "grand objective" of the investigation, a source told the newspaper.

The news came as a team from the Policia Judiciara paid another visit to the holiday apartment from which Madeleine disappeared on May 3, and as police admitted they were examining the theory that Madeleine's body had been frozen and concealed in an enclosed space.

Previous theories have suggested Madeleine's body was kept hidden in a fridge.

Police are looking at all possibilities, investigation sources told the newspaper, insisting that new steps will be taken over the next few days.

On Monday a team from the homicide division of the Poicia Judiciara visited the holiday apartment from which Madeleine disappeared on May 3, neighbours and witnesses told Portguese media.

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The investigative team stayed long enough to familiarise themselves with the apartment's layout, they said.

The newspaper also quoted an expert from the Institute of Medical Jurisprudence who insisted that it was "not as absurd as it seemed at first" to suggest that Kate and Gerry McCann had carried Madeleine's body in their rented Renault Scenic car 25 days after their daughter disappeared, despite the body being in an "advanced stage of decomposition".

Simply having windows open in the car would have provided enough ventilation to largely mask the odor of a body, Pinto da Costa of the Institute said. Dogs can detect the odor of a body best, he added, in a graphic description of how a "scent of death" is formed and how it can be detected.

The decomposition of the body would have been slowed were it stored in refrigerated conditions, he said - such as a basement.

Madeleine disappeared from the holiday apartment she was staying in with her family in Portugal's Algarve region on May 3.

Her parents - and Briton Robert Murat - remain the only suspects in the case so far.


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