Thursday 14 December 2017

Key dates in Madeline McCann disappearance

Here is a timeline of the key events since Madeleine McCann's disappearance.


- May 3 - Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, leave their three children asleep in their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in southern Portugal while they dine with friends at a nearby tapas restaurant. Nothing is amiss when Mr McCann checks on the youngsters at just after 9pm, but when his wife goes back at about 10pm she finds three-year-old Madeleine missing. Jane Tanner, one of the friends eating with the McCanns, later reports seeing a man carrying a child away earlier that night.

- May 14 - Detectives take Anglo-Portuguese property developer Robert Murat in for questioning and make him an ''arguido'', or formal suspect. Officers also search the home he shares with his mother in Praia Da Luz, just 100 yards from where the youngster vanished.

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

- August 6 - A Portuguese newspaper reports that British police sniffer dogs have found traces of blood on a wall in the McCanns' holiday apartment.

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

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

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

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


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

- July 24 - Mr Amaral publishes a book about the case, entitled The Truth Of The Lie, in which he alleges that the young girl died in her family's holiday flat on the day she went missing.

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


- January 29 - Nearly £2 million was raised for the official fund to find Madeleine in the first 10 months after she went missing, Companies House accounts show.

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


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


- April 25 - Scotland Yard detectives say they believe Madeleine could still be alive, release an age-progression picture of how she might look now as a nine-year-old, and call on the Portuguese authorities to reopen the case.

- April 26 - Portuguese police say they have found no new material that will allow them to reopen their investigation.

- May 3 - The fifth anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance.

- July 10 - Kate McCann launches a nationwide campaign to find missing people. Mrs McCann, a new ambassador for the charity Missing People, launches a network of billboards which will publicise the cases of individuals whose whereabouts are no longer known.

- November 30 - In the wake of the Leveson report, the couple urge Prime Minister David Cameron to embrace its findings, saying if he does not, then giving evidence at the inquiry will have been ''almost useless''.

- December 21 - In a Christmas message on the Find Madeleine website, Kate and Gerry McCann say the festive season will ''never be as it should''.


- February 6 - A DNA sample from a girl in New Zealand is sent to British police to quash the suggestion that she could be Madeleine McCann.

- February 17 - The McCanns brand plans for a new press regulator backed by a Royal Charter ''a compromise of a compromise'' that do not go far enough in holding the press to account.

- February 21 - Retired solicitor Tony Bennett, 65, who published claims that Madeleine McCann's parents caused her death, receives a suspended jail sentence. Mr Justice Tugendhat said Bennett, of Harlow, Essex, deliberately flouted legal undertakings, given in November 2009, not to repeat allegations about the couple. Finding him guilty of contempt of court at London's High Court, he said Bennett's conduct was so serious that nothing less than a custodial sentence of three months suspended for one year would reflect the harm he had done.

- May 1 - Mr and Mrs McCann say they have not given up hope in the search for their daughter, nearly six years after she vanished. Mrs McCann told the Press Association she believed Scotland Yard officers were "more determined than ever" to find what happened to her daughter.

- May 3 - The sixth anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance.

- May 17 - Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell from the Metropolitan Police reveals in an interview with the Evening Standard that the review team has identified at least "a handful of people of interest" in the case.

- June 21 - Prosecutors confirm that London's chief crown prosecutor Alison Saunders and her deputy Jenny Hopkins flew to Portugal with Scotland Yard detectives in April to discuss the case with their Portuguese counterparts.

- July 4 - Scotland Yard confirms that it has launched its own investigation into Madeleine's disappearance two years into a review of the case. It has "genuinely new" lines of inquiry and has identified 38 people of interest, including 12 Britons. The force will work in partnership with Portuguese police in pursuing new leads.

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