Review of Maddie case could spark new inquiry
Pressure grows on Portuguese as third anniversary of kidnap nears
Published 07/03/2010 | 05:00
The British Home Office has secretly begun a review that could lead to a fresh police inquiry into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
The move follows the release of 2,000 pages of evidence last week in which Portuguese detectives are accused of having failed to fully investigate.
According to sources close to the McCanns, Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, has ordered officials to examine the "feasibility" of British or Portuguese detectives looking afresh at all the evidence.
Kate and Gerry McCann had a meeting with Mr Johnson last year to plead for help in their search for Madeleine, who vanished in May 2007 from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal.
The couple also met John Yates, the Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner, who has headed a number of high-profile inquiries in recent years.
He is said to be "sympathetic" and to have made "general offers of assistance". The source said: "The latest we have heard from the Home Office is officials are undertaking a 'scoping exercise' to look into the possibility of a review of the case. They are looking at all the options."
Pressure is now being put on Portuguese authorities to agree in the first instance to a three-day review of the case that could be held at Interpol's headquarters in France. The review would involve British police working with Portuguese counterparts, and experts in child abduction across other European forces.
The Portuguese police have been heavily criticised for their handling of the case, which led to detectives naming the McCanns as suspects. That status was subsequently lifted, and the investigation shelved.
Last week, details emerged of a series of possible sightings of Madeleine, who was three when she vanished.
A British Home Office spokesman said: "We can confirm that the Home Secretary had a private meeting with Kate and Gerry McCann.
"Leicestershire Police stand ready to co-ordinate and complete inquiries if further information comes to light in the UK; or if requested to do so by the Portuguese authorities, who continue to lead on the overall investigation."