The purpose of this site is for information and a record of Gerry McCann's Blog Archives. As most people will appreciate GM deleted all past blogs from the official website. Hopefully this Archive will be helpful to anyone who is interested in Justice for Madeleine Beth McCann. Many Thanks, Pamalam

Note: This site does not belong to the McCanns. It belongs to Pamalam. If you wish to contact the McCanns directly, please use the contact/email details    

Reports Post-Arguido (Oct-Dec 2007) *

Press reports from October to December 2007 

Killer Steps, 01 October 2007
Killer Steps Daily Star (article no longer available online)
1st October 2007
By Jerry Lawton
Madeleine McCann died after tumbling down steps outside her family's holiday apartment, a team of British police claim.
They think she stumbled and cracked her head on the floor after waking up and looking for her missing parents.
That is the shock judgement of Brit officers brought in to search the family's apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, with sniffer dogs specially-trained to detect blood and death.
Last night it was alleged that it was UK detectives – and not their Portuguese counterparts – who first raised suspicions about the possible involvement of Madeleine’s parents.
And after their report last week, Portuguese detectives are said to be "100% certain" the four-year-old died at her family's Algarve flat on May 3.
They had thought Madeleine and her two-year-old twin siblings, Sean and Amelie, were given sedatives to help them sleep while parents Kate and Gerry, both 39, dined out with pals at a tapas bar 40 yards away.
But, according to Brit police information leaked to a Portuguese paper, Madeleine woke up and went to look for her parents.
There are "strong suspicions" the dazed youngster stumbled down 10 steps outside the door.
The paper claims: "The death was due to traumatic shock to the back of the head against ceramic tiles on the stairs.
"The only thing left to investigate now is how the body disappeared."
Portuguese detectives now plan to send a letter to British police with more than 40 key questions they say the McCanns must answer.
British officers will then decide how and where those questions will be posed.
The move was ordered by prosecutor Luis Bilro Verao, who also wants the couple's holiday pals re-questioned too.
And, according to Portuguese newspapers, at least some of them may be named as official suspects – like the McCanns.
Earlier this month Mr Verao said the pair would not be re-quizzed unless new evidence arose but the British findings have prompted a rethink.
Results of the latest forensic tests at the apartment are due within days. And detectives have been searching in fridges and cool spots where the body may have been hidden.
It also emerged last night that suspicion fell on Maddie's parents back in mid-July, after Portuguese detectives said the case had stalled and first appealed to the UK for help.
A Brit police source said: "Our detectives use a mantra in big investigations – 'clear the ground under your feet'.
"Here, that meant look at the apartment and the circle closest to Madeleine – her family.
"They should have been the first to be looked at properly."
The McCanns deny any involvement in Maddie's disappearance and say she could still be alive. They say they are being framed by Portuguese police desperate to solve a case they have bungled.

McCann children 'not alone', Timesonline 09 October 2007 (link)

McCann children 'were not alone in apartment'

October 9 2007, David Brown

Significant new evidence about the night Madeleine McCann disappeared has been uncovered, it was claimed, as one of Portugal’s most senior detectives took charge of the investigation.

Paulo Rebelo, an assistant national director of the Polícia Judiciária (PJ), took over responsibility for the case last night. He made his name in the investigation into Portugal’s most notorious paedophile ring.

His appointment was made amid reports in Portugal that detectives have evidence contradicting Kate and Gerry McCann's version of the events of the night that they reported their daughter missing.

Police believe that Madeleine and her twin brother and sister may not have been alone in the McCann holiday apartment, but that the children of seven British friends who were on holiday with the McCanns were also present when Madeleine disappeared on May 3, the 24 Horas newspaper claimed.

The McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire, have insisted that Madeleine was with only her two-year-old twin siblings, Sean and Amelie, while they dined with their friends at a tapas restaurant at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz. The group has claimed that their children were in their own apartments and that they made checks on their own children and those of their friends during the evening.

However, a source within the investigation was quoted by 24 Horas as saying: “It’s not only the collected evidence that points to the fact that there were more children inside that [the McCanns'] apartment.

“Evidence also exists, following the interrogations to the other people who that were at the Ocean Club, that only the McCanns’ apartment was visited by the people who attended the dinner.”

The children had visited each other’s apartments regularly in the six days that they had been at the Ocean Club. The newspaper does not explain how any forensic evidence could be pinpointed to the evening of Madeleine’s disappearance.

The newspaper also casts doubt on claims by one of the McCanns’ friends that he was looking after his unwell daughter when he was away from the restaurant on the evening Madeleine disappeared.

It says that Russell O’Brien, a hospital consultant from Exeter, left the restaurant at 9.35pm and returned at 10pm, just minutes before Mrs McCann discovered that Madeleine was missing. Mr O’Brien has strenuously denied any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance and has never been a formal suspect in the investigation.

24 Horas reported: “The British man guaranteed he took that long because he visited his sick daughter, and she vomited. He says he asked for the sheets to be changed, but the staff at the Ocean Club assured the investigators that nobody asked for any bedsheets to be changed that evening.”

Mr O’Brien’s partner, Jane Tanner, told police that she had seen a man carrying a girl away from the McCanns’ apartment at 9.15pm. However, another witness has insisted that she was not in the area at that time.

A source within the PJ is quoted by 24 Horas as saying: “In face of so many contradictions and in face of the forensics results that we already hold, we have very few doubts that the girl died inside that apartment, and we only have doubts about who concealed the corpse.”

The report follows claims in the British media that although tests on samples discovered in the McCanns’ apartment and hire car do not prove that Madeleine is dead, they have strengthened the theory that her parents were involved in her disappearance.

A source at the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham, which carried out the tests on behalf of the Portuguese authorities, is reported to have said that the results showed police were right to make the couple arguidos, or official suspects.

However, the McCanns’ British law firm, Kingsley Napley, has brought in its own forensic team to explain why the samples may be totally unconnected to Madeleine’s disappearance.

The couple insist that any DNA found in the Renault Scenic hired 25 days after Madeleine’s disappearance could have been transferred innocently from their daughter’s clothing when they moved to a new apartment.

Clarence Mitchell, the couple’s spokesman, said today: “Kate and Gerry have nothing to hide at all. They are perfectly happy to answer any of this, if it comes to it. There are wholly innocent explanations for anything the police may or may not have found."

Mr Mitchell said the couple were unable to grieve for Madeleine because they did not know yet what had happened to their daughter. “They need that knowledge whether Madeleine is alive or dead - let’s face it, she might be,” he said. “They need to know, before they can move on, before they can deal with that.

“In the absence of that hard information, they are doing what they can to, one, clear their names of these dreadful smears and, two, to actually get on with the job of finding her. That is the message we want to go to police in Portugal - ‘find Madeleine’.”

The couple hope that the appointment of a new head of the investigation will refocus the inquiry on finding their daughter. Mr Rebelo was appointed last night after the demotion of the previous lead investigator, Gonçalo Amaral, who had claimed that British police were being manipulated by Madeleine’s parents.

Mr Rebelo made his career at the Central Directory for the Investigation of Drug Trafficking before being appointed one of four associate directors of the PJ. He was head of the Criminal Investigation department in Lisbon when it uncovered a notorious paedophile ring. The “Casa Pia” ring had been abusing boys at state-run children’s homes for decades before being uncovered in 2002. Those alleged to have been involved included senior politicians, a former ambassador, celebrities and wealthy businessmen.

Mr Rebelo was described by colleagues as “highly regarded internally, he has done some excellent work for the PJ, he is nice and a good communicator”. He is close to the PJ’s national director, Alípio Ribeiro.

Rebelo brought in homicide detectives, 12 October 2007

Madeleine police chief recruits murder experts to crack case Daily Mail

By VANESSA ALLEN, Last updated at 19:42pm on 12th October 2007

The new head of the Madeleine McCann investigation is to bring in a team of murder specialists, he has revealed.

Paulo Rebelo, Portugal's second most senior policeman, has summoned his own men from Lisbon to double the size of the squad working on the hunt for the four-year-old.

He wants a root-and-branch review of every aspect of the floundering five-month investigation.

Kate and Gerry McCann welcomed the move, which British experts said should have happened months ago.

The couple's spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "If they are experts in homicides then hopefully they can eliminate them as suspects."

But friends of the couple said they wanted to see the inquiry refocus as a search for a missing child, not as a murder hunt.

Mr Rebelo, 45, who is the deputy national director of the Policia Judiciaria, took over the reins of the investigation on Wednesday.

He met with his new team in the PJ's regional headquarters in Portimao on Thursday, and told them that four new detectives would join them over the weekend.

The Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha said the recruits included two murder experts, who have been told to review the entire case for "loose ends" and suggest lines of inquiry which have been overlooked.

Such reviews are routine in Britain, including the Soham and Sarah Payne inquiries, and can trigger vital breakthroughs.

Mark Williams-Thomas, a former Surrey Police child protection officer, said the new approach was "textbook".

"For a long time now the investigation has lacked direction and impetus and the new inquiry head has brought that back," he said.

"You wonder why they didn't bring him in earlier. This shows there is some proper detective work going on."

Mr and Mrs McCann, both 39, have been told that results of forensics tests could be handed to Portuguese police on Monday.

Their spokesman Mr Mitchell said they were prepared to travel back to Portugal if needed, but said they remained confident that their arguido status would be lifted.

He said: "Our understanding is that this next batch of results will just fill in the details of what they have already got."

At the same time, the only other arguido, Robert Murat, broke his silence to make a direct plea to the Portuguese police to finally clear him of suspicion. Despite police restrictions on giving interviews, the British expat spoke on camera to BBC News: "It's five months, my savings have gone." he said.

Madeleine: Bloody footprint found in McCanns' apartment, 15 October 2007
Madeleine: Bloody footprint found in McCanns' apartment Daily Mail
Last updated at 00:28 15 October 2007
A bloody footprint was found in Kate and Gerry McCann's apartment, matching a print on their hire car, according to a forensic report shown to The Mail on Sunday.
The existence of the two marks, which has never been revealed until today, is apparently at the heart of renewed suspicion that the couple were involved in their daughter's disappearance.
New tests carried out at the Forensic Science Service laboratory in Birmingham show there is a 'moderate' chance that the blood belonged to Madeleine. But the results are inconclusive.
The inquiry into the four-year-old's disappearance has been rife with conjecture and wild speculation over DNA material.
And, until now, confusion has surrounded what samples had been found and how important they might be.
Part of the report shown to this newspaper reveals that officers who examined the McCanns' apartment in Praia da Luz on the Algarve after Madeleine went missing on May 3 discovered a 'partial footwear mark', believed to be from a size 5 or 6 shoe, just outside the bedroom.
It adds that it 'appeared to have a blood imprint' that was visible to the naked eye.
The FSS results conclude that the footprint matched the pattern of a mark found above the rear bumper of the McCanns' Renault Scenic hire car ? a print which Portuguese police apparently believe is consistent with someone lifting a body in or out of the boot.
Experts could find no definite traces of blood in that print.
Blood in the footprint at the apartment was tested for DNA. Results are rated on an eight-point scale: no scientific evidence, limited, moderate, moderately strong, strong, very strong, extremely strong and conclusive.
Scientists found there was only 'moderate' support, number 3 on the scale, to suggest it matched Madeleine's DNA.
What they believe is significant about the footprint is that no traces of blood were found around it.
'It is quite possible, therefore, that the blood had been picked up on the sole of the shoe from outside the apartment, from literally anywhere,' said a source close to the investigation.
The source added that there was concern at the FSS that the Portuguese police have already attached too much weight to the results.
It has been reported, for instance, that DNA results justified the naming of the McCanns as official suspects, or arguidos.
'The simple fact is that, as was the case before, the results are not conclusive,' said the source.
'In short, it cannot be said the blood belongs to Madeleine. If other strong evidence accompanied it, for example, that someone was seen emerging from the apartment with a hammer, then a lawyer might find it of some use. But on its own it is of little value.'
Further question marks were raised over the forensic evidence last night, as Portuguese police have still failed to take DNA samples from people who helped in the initial stages of the search for Madeleine.
These profiles would prove crucial in matching scene-of-crime evidence to those who were at the resort.
One resident who had not been asked to give a sample said: 'I thought it was quite important for us to give DNA so that we could be ruled out if nothing else. There were lots of us helping look for the little girl that night and you would have thought our DNA would be all over the place.'
The FSS report says the footprint found in the apartment 'was made when the foot was heading towards the bedroom'.
'The impression was made up of small circles and square blocks. It is not possible to ascertain whether the shoe print was from an adult or a child but it is estimated that it was a shoe size 5 or possibly 6. It was of a right shoe.
'The shoe print found at the rear of the Renault hire car below the boot area and above part of the rear bumper was a left-sided shoe and the impression has similar pattern component, pattern size and degree of wear to the outer toe region of the sole to match the right shoe, and again has circles and square blocks. A swab for blood from this mark has been examined but it proved inconclusive.'
This is the first time that forensic evidence relating to the case has been presented in such detail.
Sources have told this newspaper that the sample taken from the apartment was not of good quality. Other partial prints were underneath it and it had been walked over countless times.
Tests were carried out to determine whether anyone had tried to clean it up, and, crucially, the results showed that no 'concerted' effort had been made.
'If someone had tried to wipe it away, using bleach, for instance, this would have shown up clearly in the results,' said the source.
There is also concern over the Portuguese police's interpretation of the print on the Renault Scenic.
'They seem to think it is consistent with someone putting their foot on the boot to lever a body in or out. But there could be 101 reasons why someone would put their foot on the car in this way,' the source said.
A pair of Madeleine's ankle socks, 'heavily stained on the sole and the heel', were also examined at the Birmingham laboratory.
It could not be determined whether the stains contained blood and were deemed to hold 'limited scientific' evidence.
Nail clippings found in the hire car were found to contain fragments of paint but otherwise to be 'of no significance'.
The McCanns have always vehemently denied any involvement in their daughter's disappearance and will view the new report as confirmation of their fears that the Portuguese police are overplaying the importance of forensic evidence.
The couple have consistently said any material found in Portugal can be wholly and innocently explained. They have hired their own forensic experts to refute Portuguese police claims that the new DNA tests link them to Madeleine's disappearance.
But the Policia Judiciaria have not contacted the McCanns since they returned to their Leicestershire home more than a month ago.
A friend said: 'They have not heard a word. It's a shambles considering they have been made the focus of the investigation and stand accused of playing a part in their daughter's death. They don't have a clue what's going on.'
Last night, Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' spokesman, said: 'We simply cannot comment on unsubstantiated reports that touch on any evidence at the centre of this inquiry.'
Meanwhile, detectives are focusing on evidence from former Mark Warner nanny Charlotte Pennington, 20, that she saw a man dropping a 'bundle' from a dinghy into the Atlantic just off Praia da Luz at 11.30pm on the night Madeleine disappeared.
A police source described the sighting as 'credible', but questions hang over it.
Miss Pennington said the man's jacket had a yellow reflective hood, and for her to have seen him in the dark, the boat would have had to be close to shore.
Neither fact seems to indicate a man wishing to remain undetected.

Clarence Mitchell: "If she is dead then she is dead, but not by their hand", 15 October 2007
Maddie Police To Search Reservoir Daily Record
By Stewart Maclean
Oct 15 2007
New Case Chief Orders Beauty Spot Hunt
POLICE are to search an isolated reservoir in the hunt for missing Madeleine McCann.
Dozens of Portuguese officers will be called in to trawl dense undergrowth and land around the man-made beauty spot - which was popular with anglers and weekend sailors until a recent crackdown.
Divers will also be used to search the Reservoir da Brevura - known locally as the Reservoir of the Wilderness - near the village of Odiaxere, north-east of Praia da Luz. The reservoir is just 15 miles from the holiday apartment where the McCann family were staying when Madeleine disappeared.
The search comes after a new chief investigator, Paulo Rebelo, 45, was put in charge of the case.
The McCann family's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "Kate and Gerry are realistic enough to know that Madeleine may be dead and it would be a tragedy that she is found as such, because it rules out the hope that she is alive.
"But any widening of the search area is encouraging and we would welcome that. If she is dead then she is dead, but not by their hand."
It's not thought that any specific intelligence is linked to the new search, which comes after Rebelo reviewed the case.
His team has been boosted by four new detectives from the capital Lisbon.
Rebelo has also demanded similar searches be conducted in other areas within a 10-mile radius of Praia da Luz.
But the McCann family fear that the main thrust of the police investigation is aimed at showing they were involved in Madeleine's disappearance.
And they could soon become the only suspects in the inquiry if ex-pat property developer Robert Murat gets the all-clear.
Murat, 33, had his Praia da Luz home repeatedly searched by police after being named an "arguido", or formal suspect, on May 14.
But under Portuguese law that status will be automatically lifted on November 14 - six months after it was imposed - unless a senior officer applies for an extension.
Murat's lawyer Francisco Pagarete said: "If they consider that the situation with regards to my client has already been resolved then his status will be lifted and he can get on with his life."

Madeleine McCann police to trawl reservoir, 16 October 2007
Madeleine McCann police to trawl reservoir Telegraph
By Aislinn Simpson in Odiaxere
Last Updated: 2:30AM BST 16/10/2007
A vast reservoir near to the town where Madeleine McCann went missing is set to be trawled as police relaunch an active search for her.
The new inquiry head has now tripled the size of his team in a bid to crack the case and ordered fresh searches of a 10 mile area around the holiday town of Praia da Luz from where she disappeared five months ago.
A search is also expected of the dense woodland and isolated dwellings around the reservoir - known locally as Barragem da Bravura, literally the Reservoir of the Wilderness - which leading detective Paulo Rebelo believes was not combed carefully enough in the days following the four-year-old's disappearance.
According to Portuguese newspaper the Correio Da Manha, the "meticulous" Rebelo has ordered his reinforced team to pay "special attention" to the area around the jagged reservoir, which has a 25 mile perimeter, and is 15 miles from Luz.
Sites to the south of the Ocean Club where the McCanns and their friends stayed, including Luz and Burgau beaches, are also to be "fine combed" by inspectors, who will particularly focus on spots where the British group used their mobile telephones.
These are the first significant searches for three months. Detectives have already revisited the family's rented apartment and the tapas bar where they dined on May 3, the night Madeleine disappeared, and this weekend began a review of the case files, looking for loose ends.
A friend of Kate and Gerry McCann said: "Any widening of the search area is encouraging and we would welcome that. It does sound as though there is more vigour in that aspect of the inquiry which is good."
He added that while it would be a "tragedy" for the family if police searches eventually yield the little girl's body, at least it would help lift the cloud of suspicion from them.
"If she is dead then she is dead but not by their hand," he said.
Another friend dismissed a report this weekend about suspicious footprints in the McCanns' apartment and the car they hired 25 days after Madeleine went missing as being like "something out of an Agatha Christie novel".
"It doesn't imply guilt in any shape or form," she said. "There are a lot of perfectly good reasons why a footprint of that nature might be found."
Newspapers cited a report on results due back from the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham this week that detailed a footprint in the apartment which had specks of unidentified blood in it, linking this to a potentially matching footprint above the bumper of the McCanns' car.
But an FSS source said: "The simple fact is, as was the case before, the results are not conclusive."
Meanwhile, it emerged that Kate and Gerry McCann, both 39-year-old doctors from Rothley in Leicestershire, could be the only official suspects in their daughter's disappearance within a month.
According to British expatriate Robert Murat's lawyer, Francisco Pagarete: "It's possible that in the next four weeks his status will be cleared because we will have reached six months since he has been a suspect in this case."
He said the District Attorney could still step in to increase the time limit detectives have to decide about their suspects, but added: "If they consider that the situation with regards to my client his already been resolved then his status will be lifted and he can get on with his life. It's just a question of waiting."

Portuguese police: 'Traces of corpse WERE found in McCanns' hire car', 16 October 2007
Evening Standard 16 October 2007
Evening Standard 16 October 2007

Portuguese police: 'Traces of corpse WERE found in McCanns' hire car' Daily Mail / Evening Standard
By Robert Kendrick, Chief Reporter (Evening Standard)
Last updated at 16:39 16 October 2007 (Daily Mail online) 
The McCanns are facing new claims today that evidence of a decomposing body was found in their hired car.
Portuguese police sources allege forensic test results show "bodily fluid" from a corpse in the boot of the Renault Scenic rented by Kate and Gerry McCann 25 days after Madeleine went missing.
Sources in the Policia Judiciaria are also claiming that the evidence was found on the underside of a carpet, indicating that a body was deliberately hidden there.
Police are understood to be waiting for further test resultswhich may show whether the DNA belongs to Madeleine.
The allegations were dismissed by sources close to the McCanns as the latest smears in a campaign waged against the couple by elements in the Policia Judiciaria.
Friends of the McCanns believe police have orchestrated damaging but false leaks in retribution for criticism of the way the search for Madeleine was conducted in the early days after she vanished on 3 May.
The source insisted there are "wholly innocent" explanations for any evidence that might have been found in the couple's car.
But a source close to Portuguese police said: "Police are waiting for the results to confirm the identity of the DNA.
"That is what these DNA tests may show and police are waiting for that. They are being told the fluids come from a dead body. These are bodily fluids that could only come from a corpse."
Officers are claiming the evidence was found on the underside of carpet in the boot, next to the space for the Renault's spare wheel.
Police are arguing that if the DNA was found there through transference from Madeleine's possessions or from her siblings - as the McCanns have claimed - then the evidence would have been discovered on top of the carpet instead.
The Forensic Science Service laboratory in Birmingham has conducted a series of tests on evidence found in the McCanns' apartment in Praia da Luz and in the hire car.
Preliminary results were received in August prompting Portuguese police to name the parents as official suspects in the case.
The Standard reported last week how several "new pieces" of evidence linked the McCanns to their daughter's disappearance.
One source said: "There is no reason to change the direction of the investigation and everything that has emerged indicates that it is focusing where it should."
Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' spokesman, said today: "I cannot comment on yet further, unsubstantiated reports.
"Nor are we allowed to speak because of Portuguese judicial secrecy laws on anything that appears to touch on the evidential nature of the case."
Sources close to the McCanns were quick to dismiss the latest claims coming from Portugal.
One friend said: "If Portuguese police really had decomposing bodily fluids in the car - and they had proof of that - do you really think Gerry and Kate would still be at home in Leicestershire?
"If there was something as critical as that Leicestershire police would have had the call by now and they have not.
"The Portuguese police are conducting a long-planned act of revenge for British newspapers showing disrespect at the start of the investigation.
"Police believe the criticism was inspired by the McCanns and these smears are an attempt to fight back."
The McCanns have protested their innocence and are convinced a child abductor snatched the girl.

Kate McCann: 'If I weighed another two stone, had a bigger bosom and looked more maternal, people would be more sympathetic', 16 October 2007
Kate McCann: 'If I weighed another two stone, had a bigger bosom and looked more maternal, people would be more sympathetic' Liverpool Echo
Oct 16 2007 By Paddy Shennan, Liverpool Echo
In an EXCLUSIVE interview, the grandparents of Madeleine McCann tell Paddy Shennan of the terrible toll on their family as their daughter remains a suspect in the toddler's disappearance.
KATE McCann's parents today hit out at the "scurrilous rubbish" being printed about their daughter – and said she feels she is being persecuted because of her appearance.
"She said last night 'If I weighed another two stone, had a bigger bosom and looked more maternal, people would be more sympathetic'," Madeleine’s grandmother, Susan Healy, told the ECHO today.
"I think it's terrible that she’s having to think like that.
"She does feel persecuted, not by the general public who have been extremely supportive, but by some sections of the media, and I just feel it's important I let people know she is not this person who is in control all the time.
"Kate is a very sensitive, caring person and one of the most maternal people I know – she puts me to shame. Her life revolves around her children but now she's got to the point where she feels she is being persecuted, in her mind, if her twins, Sean and Amelie, cry in public – it’s absolutely crazy."
She adds: "All this stuff is going on inside my poor daughter who's not done anything wrong. She and Gerry went to a restaurant which was just metres away from their apartment and part of the holiday complex – it was a terrible mistake but they did it out of naivety."
Although Susan and Brian Healy still cling to the hope that their four-year-old granddaughter will be found alive, they dread their worst nightmares coming true amid reports that police in Portugal are trawling a reservoir.
In a wide-ranging, often emotional and tear-filled interview, the couple, who live in Allerton, also reveal that a meeting of family and friends is taking place in Formby today to discuss the next stage of the campaign to keep the search for Madeleine in the public eye.
It's now 166 days since Madeleine was last seen alive and Susan and Brian admit that the enormous strain is telling on all the family.
Kate's health and well-being has given particular cause for concern, and her mum reveals: "She and Gerry do have counselling – Kate saw a counsellor at the end of last week. It's the same person they saw in Portugal and I know it does help them.
"But I think they continually go back to the feeling that they can't afford to go to pieces because they have to keep trying to get their daughter back – that overrides everything else they are feeling."
Susan cannot say how, or if, any of the family will cope if there remains no news – or the worst possible news arrives. But she stresses: "Anyone would crack eventually. It’s like having a perfect family and seeing it torn to shreds."
There have been concerns about Kate's appearance and apparent weight loss, and her mum says: "She's always had that kind of build and has never carried any weight. But she does look very traumatised. It must be unbearable for her to think about the possibility of never seeing Madeleine again, or that it's going to be another six months before she sees her again."
Regarding reports that police are focusing on a reservoir around 15 miles from Praia da Luz, Susan says: "It is scary and if it really is going on, I'll be holding my breath."
But the couple are hoping that the appointment of Paulo Rebelo, Portugal's second most senior police officer, to lead the investigation in place of the much-criticised Goncalo Amaral, will give fresh impetus to the hunt.
And Susan says: "We've no idea when Kate and Gerry may have their suspect status lifted, but we hope it will be soon. Until it is, they are not allowed to defend themselves in public – and that is dreadful.
"They need to be exonerated as soon as possible and there are people who will then need to apologise to them – but whether that happens in the real world, I don't know."
Susan says she has had difficulty sleeping, while Brian reveals: "Anger keeps me going, so I'm doing pretty well because there has been a lot to be angry about."
But despite all the agony and anguish, Susan says: "We need people to realise that nothing has changed since day one. Madeleine is still missing and the police haven't found anything to indicate she isn't alive, so we have got to go on looking.
"Kate and Gerry are as innocent as you or I, or anyone reading this. The perpetrator or perpetrators are still out there. We still pray that someone will open a door and say 'Here she is – it's all been a terrible mistake'.
"In my heart of hearts I still feel we will get Madeleine back, although I naturally get scared when I hear about the police carrying out searches."
Brian adds: "I've heard nothing yet to convince me that Madeleine isn't alive and I am clinging onto the hope that we will get her back."
But he and Susan are realistic enough to accept that some people are not only convinced that their granddaughter is dead, but that Madeleine's own parents were responsible.
Susan says: "Strangers are still coming up to us and saying 'We don't believe a word of what we're reading, you know' – that happens again and again and it's important for us to hear that.
"I also know that if you throw enough muck at people, some of it can stick. But you've got to credit people with having the intelligence to work out that there has been a lot of scurrilous rubbish written."
Each new claim or accusation aired in the tabloids – the majority emanating from Portugal – appears more outrageous than the last. They include:
"Gerry McCann isn't Madeleine's real dad".
"It's total rubbish," says Susan. "We just don't know where this sort of thing comes from. It would be simple for Kate and Gerry to go to the clinic where they had the IVF and prove this is a lie but I think they feel it would be demeaning, while it would also put the clinic under enormous media pressure."
"Kate and Gerry drugged Madeleine – and their twins, Sean and Amelie – with sedatives."
"They don't like taking tablets themselves and the only thing they have ever given their children, if they were teething or had a temperature, is Calpol. They didn't give them anything that night."
"Seven children were sleeping in Kate and Gerry's apartment on the night Madeleine went missing."
Susan says: "Again, it's nonsense and I don't know where this has come from – or why it's only now it's been suggested."
Although not backed up by any hard evidence, stories first printed in Portuguese newspapers – which include quotes from alleged "sources" – are picked up by the British press and then dissected on the internet.
Susan says: "I don't go onto the internet, but I know some people will get pleasure from picking up on, and discussing, the negative side of things – however, it's hard enough for us to read that people are convinced Madeleine is dead."
She adds: "There are obviously different types of people in the world, but I think the good outweigh the bad."
While Brian reveals: "When we have been with Kate and Gerry in Leicestershire, I have opened the boxes of mail. There would be hundreds and hundreds of items and while there would be the occasional crank letter, 99.5% of them would be from well-wishers."
Such support has been worth its weight in gold, but still the nightmare which began on the evening of Thursday May 3 continues . . .
When will it end?

McCanns accept Madeleine is probably dead, 16 October 2007
McCanns accept Madeleine is probably dead Telegraph
By Aislinn Simpson in Praia da Luz and Nick Britten

McCanns 'didn't say Madeleine probably dead', 17 October 2007
McCanns 'didn't say Madeleine probably dead' Telegraph
By Aislinn Simpson in Praia da Luz and Richard Holt

Why Portugal is a haven for paedophiles - the disturbing backcloth to the Madeleine case, 20 October 2007
Why Portugal is a haven for paedophiles - the disturbing backcloth to the Madeleine case Daily Mail
Last updated at 11:06 20 October 2007
A ferrari engine makes a deep, distinctive sound.
When the children at Portugal's most famous orphanage heard the sports car roaring down the driveway, fear swept through the dormitories.
The noise could mean only one thing: the man known as The Doctor was coming to call.
Yet this medical practitioner had no intention of adhering to the ancient Hippocratic Oath.
Instead, arriving at Casa Pia (House of the Pious), a 17th century Lisbon orphanage where more than 4,000 children are cared for each year behind high stone walls, the doctor would summon selected boys and girls from their beds for examinations one night each week.
Where possible, he chose deaf-mutes.
After checking that the children were not suffering from any sexual infections, the doctor was joined by the orphanage caretaker, known as Bibi, who ushered the unfortunate children outside to a waiting van.
With the doctor following in his red Ferrari, Bibi drove the van to the prestigious homes of some of the leading members of Lisbon society - ranging from Portuguese government ministers and high-ranking diplomats, to famous television stars and members of the judiciary.
There, the children were repeatedly sexually abused. Some were allegedly drugged to make them compliant; others were plied with alcohol.
This continued for years. Assaults were filmed; pictures of one attack were subsequently found at the home of a suspected paedophile in Paris.
According to medical records, the victims' injuries were horrific - and consistent with serious sexual assault and rape. In witness statements, many were able to describe in minute detail the homes where they were taken and identifying marks on the bodies of their abusers.
The existence of this so-called "magic circle" of the Portuguese establishment, allegedly involved in an international paedophile ring using boys and girls from Casa Pia, was last week likened to an earthquake waiting to shake Portugal to its foundations.
New allegations about the scale of the network will be put before the country's highest court within the next few weeks.
Amid rumours of links to other paedophile gangs across Europe and the U.S., international experts on child sex crimes and murders are expected to be in court when the case re-opens, four years after a group of victims broke a silence lasting more than 30 years.
But what relevance does this have to the disappearance 170 days ago of four-year-old Madeleine McCann in Praia da Luz, about 280km from Lisbon?
And what does it mean for Kate and Gerry McCann, who have not only had to cope with losing their child, but have also been subjects of a vicious campaign in the Portuguese press to smear them?
It is crucial for two reasons; first because it proves what international crime agencies have long suspected: that Portugal has become a magnet for predatory paedophiles from around the world, using the country's lax laws and preying on the high numbers of poor, abandoned children.
And second, because Paulo Rebelo, an urbane, methodical detective who led the Casa Pia paedophile inquiry, was last night finishing his first week as the new chief of the investigation into the disappearance of the British child.
Rebelo has replaced Goncalo Amaral, the "oafish" local police chief out of his depth in a case that has captured unprecedented world attention, with millions fascinated by the story of the girl snatched from her bed on holiday while her parents ate with friends 200 yards away.
The sight of the sweaty, corpulent Amaral in restaurants and cafes near the Portimao police headquarters had become commonplace since Madeleine disappeared.
While the McCanns were warned repeatedly they faced jail for speaking about the case, he was been overheard, during his daily three-hour lunches of wine and shellfish, accusing the couple of killing their daughter.
In one conversation with Portugal's ex-Formula One racing driver Pedro Lamy, Amaral revealed he was convinced the McCanns drugged their daughter and accidentally killed her. "The police case is we are sure the parents killed Madeleine. They are both doctors and know about drugs.
"We are confident in our case," he said.
In an effort to make up for lost time following Amaral's dismissal, Rebelo has recruited his own men from Lisbon. To the fury of the original officers, he has lost little time in sidelining them, bringing in two child sex experts from the Casa Pia case as well as homicide specialists and computer analysts - known as "the cleaners" due to their reputation for leaving no stone unturned.
According to senior police sources, he also launched a furious private attack on the 100 officers involved in the original inquiry, which he has now cut back to 40.
At a meeting, he accused some officers of having "closed minds" about who was guilty, saying that "pre-conceptions should be challenged".
In addition, he oversaw Operation Predator - raids on more than 70 suspected paedophiles, whose computers were searched last week for images of Madeleine or other evidence of criminal sexual acts. Although by last night Rebelo had failed to make a breakthrough, sources say it is a clear sign, along with reports that Russian child traffickers may be involved, of a strand of his current thinking.
In a Lisbon café, an associate of Rebelo told the Mail: "The Casa Pia case had a deep affect on Paulo. You come across things that are appalling and cruel. But you get a feeling that there are some seriously bad people in the world, and some of them are here. He does not rule anything out."
So, after enduring months of soul-destroying leaks from the Portuguese police - from claims that they drugged Madeleine and then disposed of her body, to allegations that Gerry was not even her real father - the McCanns are no longer the sole focus of the Portuguese police investigation.
But the nightmare goes on. A group of officers loyal to Amaral are still leaking smears to the Portuguese press.
The latest?
That bodily fluids from Madeleine's corpse were found in the boot of the couple's hire care and that "background checks" were to be carried out on Gerry McCann's laptop. And then the police "sources" claimed that Kate killed Madeleine without telling Gerry, and that the body was "refrigerated" before being dumped up to 25 days later.
His career in tatters and now back on desk duties in Faro, Amaral faces a criminal hearing in the case of another missing child, Joana Cipriano, after being accused of concealing evidence that the girl's mother was tortured into confessing to her murder.
Amaral and his colleagues face countless unanswered questions about mistakes in the original police investigation into Maddie's disappearance, such as failing to ensure the McCanns' apartment was sealed off for forensics. (This did not happen until the next day, by which time the McCanns, their friends, resort staff and detectives had traipsed through, destroying potentially vital evidence.)
They also failed to seal off the Mark Warner Ocean Club resort. No roadblocks were set up and police on the Spanish border - two hours' drive away - were not alerted for 12 hours. Staff were only quizzed 60 hours later. And the CCTV footage from a busy main road was never studied. The list of mistakes goes on.
While the shift in the investigation may ease the intolerable pressure on the McCanns, it will do little to console them.
As well as growing fears that Madeleine was abducted by a paedophile ring, they can have little hope of justice when leading Portuguese figures are allegedly involved in covering-up their own child sex scandal.
Both cases - the two highestprofile criminal investigations in the country since the end of the Portuguese military dictatorship in 1974 - have been riven by allegations of compromised police officers, high-level interference and vicious, virulent attacks on key witnesses.
Pedro Namora, a former Casa Pia orphan who witnessed 11 rapes on fellow orphans, during which they were tied to their beds, sympathises with the McCanns. He believes elements in the force have conspired to suppress both scandals, fearing damage to the country's reputation.
"Portugal is a paedophiles' paradise," said Mr Namora, now a lawyer campaigning on behalf of the Casa Pia victims. "If all the names come out, this will be an earthquake in Portugal. There is a massive, sophisticated network at play here - stretching from the government to the judiciary and the police.
"The network is enormous and extremely powerful. There are magistrates, ambassadors, police, politicians - all have procured children from Casa Pia. It is extremely difficult to break this down. These people cover for each other, because if one is arrested, they all are arrested. They don't want anyone to know."
Now 44, Mr Namora watched as friends sank into alcoholism, drug addiction and death after their traumatic childhood experiences at Casa Pia. "I was the only one who made it," he said. "What could I do? I couldn't keep silent."
He has received death threats and warnings about what will happen to his own children, after taking up the case when an orphan called "Joel" approached him, saying prominent paedophiles were using Casa Pia as a "supermarket for children".
Mr Namora has been threatened after fighting on behalf of the abused children he grew up with.
After being telephoned by a stranger offering to pay off his mortgage, he was told the exact movements of his own three children, and warned that they and their father would come to a grisly end unless he shut up.
An open, warm man, Mr Namora makes an unlikely conspiracytheorist-But he believes the case, which he brought to light in 2003, will underscore Portugal's growing attraction for paedophiles, which has seen six children disappear in recent years.
One reason for this attraction is that the law was quietly relaxed last year, ahead of the forthcoming trial, meaning that repeat offences against the same child would merit only a single charge - and a lesser sentence.
In echoes of the McCanns' ordeal, the initial investigation was badly handled when allegations of abuse were first made at Casa Pia in 1982. Carlos Silvino, the man known as Bibi, was linked to rapes and assaults, but police "lost" pictures showing prominent Lisbon politicians with him and the children.
He was only charged after dozens of children came forward in 2003. They also accused Jorge Ritto, a former Portuguese ambassador, of child abuse. Ritto, it transpired, had also once been sent home in disgrace from a posting in Germany after an incident involving a young boy in a park.
The conspiracy did not end there. Teresa Costa Macedo, a former secretary of state for the family, has revealed that she knew about the attacks in the early Eighties - and that she had alerted General Antonio Ramalho Eanes, the then Portuguese president, about the allegations.
Mrs Costa Macedo, who remained silent for two decades after being warned she would be killed if she spoke, now says that the caretaker "was just one element in a huge paedophile network that involved important people in our country. It wasn't just him [the caretaker]. He was a procurer of children for well-known people who range from diplomats and politicians to people linked to the media".
While still a government minister, Costa Macedo handed police "photographs, an account of the methods used to spirit children out of the orphanage and testimonies of a number of children". Many of the photographs were found at ex-ambassador Jorge Ritto's house. Police reportedly found four children locked up who had been missing from Casa Pia.
Under armed guard at a safe house last week, Bibi could count himself a lucky man. He originally faced allegations that he had sexually assaulted more than 600 children. That has since been reduced to 30. Silvino has hinted at the high-level of the conspiracy, saying: "They can't touch me - there are too many people involved."
Following Ritto's arrest, the police questioned Carloz Cruz, known as Portugal's "Mr Television", and Joao Diniz, a high- society doctor and driver of the red Ferrari. The network allegedly went further. Paulo Pedroso, a government minister, was arrested and quizzed about 15 cases of child sexual abuse.
Amid allegations that paedophile networks have become endemic in Portugal - the European police force Interpol has named the country as one of the worst offenders in Europe - there are fears that the Casa Pia scandal will come to eclipse Belgium's notorious Marc Dutroux case, in which the arrest of a notorious paedophile and child murderer revealed a sordid picture of judicial and political corruption.
Of course, the Casa Pia case may have no direct link to the disappearance of Madeleine, but the culture in which such a serious child abuse network was allowed to operate is the same culture that pervades the whole of Portugal. Was it this attitude that led to the bungled initial investigation in the McCann case?
Perhaps the appointment of the man who exposed the Casa Pia scandal will give the parents of Maddie hope that a proper investigation will now discover the truth.

Madeleine: Foreign press shows no mercy to Kate and Gerry McCann, 26 October 2007
Madeleine: Foreign press shows no mercy to Kate and Gerry McCann Daily Mail
Last updated at 22:03 26 October 2007
Since Madeleine McCann vanished on May 3 the plight of her parents has rarely been off the front pages of Portugal's newspapers - and often reported in the cruellest terms.
Staring out, day after day, are the now iconic images of four-year-old Madeleine, smiling from under her sun hat, and her mother Kate's gaunt and strained face.
The McCanns wanted to keep their missing child in the public eye at all costs but one wonders if they had any idea how high the price would be.
For the headlines accompanying these instantly recognisable photos have veered dramatically from open sympathy to open warfare over the months.
Some, such as Publico, Portugal's "paper of record" (circulation 68,336), have stood back from the baiting and smearing of the McCanns that has taken place, barely mentioning the case since the first frenetic weeks.
But others have given blanket coverage to the alleged twists and turns of the investigation, printing sensational and often anonymously sourced stories.
The downmarket tabloid 24 Horas, which sells 63,783, has "splashed" the story every day while Portugal's best selling daily paper, Correio da Manha, a tabloid with a circulation of 157,882, has carried the McCann story on its front page almost as often.
Even the respected middle market newspapers, Jornal de Noticias (125,458 copies) and Diario de NotÌcias (58,959), have devoted an astonishing amount of space to the story.
The coverage is all the more remarkable because the Policia Judiciara, Portugal's CID, has said little officially about the investigation.
There have been only five press conferences since Madeleine vanished and so the media has turned instead to its anonymous sources for some sensational "revelations".
These sources, quoted so slavishly in the Portuguese press, allege that Kate and/or Gerry McCann killed Madeleine in their holiday apartment, accidentally overdosed her on sedatives, hid her body in the apartment fridge for weeks, and transported her body in a car hired three weeks after her disappearance.
It has been further claimed that Kate was a mother who could not cope with her children, the couple left the children crying for hours, they drank to excess on the night Madeleine vanished, they were "swingers" who liked to indulge in wife-swapping with their friends, and that they discussed the killing with friends by email and phone.
All of these have been vehemently denied by the McCanns and strongly criticised by Alipio Ribeiro, Portugal's most senior policeman.
Mr Ribeiro said officers on the case "who know nothing" had fed lies and speculation to the Portuguese press that had resulted in further distress for Madeleine's parents.
But, apparently, nothing and nobody can stop the flow of lurid and scurrilous articles.
Diario de Noticias, quoting unnamed sources, proclaimed: "Police have known for a month that Madeleine McCann was killed that night at the apartment."
And Jornal de Noticias claimed traces of blood found in the apartment were Madeleine's, adding with unexplained confidence: "This evidence locates Madeleine's death inside the apartment, but the investigators are still not certain it was murder, despite the fact that forensic experts have revealed that somebody did try to erase the blood traces.
"The theory most favoured by detectives to explain Maddie's death - now taken as almost certain - is that it involved an accident."
The allegation that the McCanns doped their children before they went out for dinner was repeated yet again in last week's television interview. This despite regular denials from the couple, who are both doctors, and a lack of any evidence.
The claim stems from a remark made by one of the first two policemen on the scene, who expressed his surprise that the twins, two-year-old Sean and Amelie, slept through the abduction and the ensuing uproar.
Another old chestnut is that Gerry McCann is not the biological father of Madeleine. Dismissed in the early days of the investigation, it re-emerged in 24 Horas only last week and had to be denied all over again with the highly personal explanation that the children were all born by IVF treatment.
The McCanns have tried in the past to be philosophical, claiming they had "no illusions" that they could control the media. But they have resorted to sending in the lawyers in at least two cases.
The first was in response to the downmarket weekly paper Tal E Qual which quoted "a source close to the investigation" and said police believed the couple had killed their daughter.
The McCanns instructed libel lawyers to file a complaint but before it could go any further, Tal E Qual closed.
The couple are also considering action against 24 Horas over the latest accusation about Madeleine's parentage.
Gerry McCann said in a recent interview: "The way that information has got out has been handled incredibly badly, without a doubt. It's almost as though some people are thinking out loud.
"It's all very well to have a potential scenario but that shouldn't necessarily be written up as if there is evidence to support it.
"I think this has been handled very irresponsibly by a number of people. We don't believe there is any evidence to support any of the deluded headlines, and the police have made that clear.
"It's difficult because a lot of untruths, half truths and blatant lies have been published."
His wife added: "There are times when you just want to shout out, 'That's wrong', because I think we've been done injustice in a lot of ways."

Sick Madeleine 'advertising' spoof in German magazine is 'extremely hurtful', 01 November 2007
Sick Madeleine 'advertising' spoof in German magazine is 'extremely hurtful' Daily Mail

Last updated at 07:50 01 November 2007

A German satirical magazine's take on the publicity surrounding Madeleine McCann's disappearance was described by her parents' spokesman today as "extremely hurtful".

The Titanic published a double-page spread in the form of an advert for a supermarket, depicting a number of products promoted with the image and name of the little girl.

One is for a domestic cleaner guaranteed to remove "all traces at home and against which DNA tests have no chance".

Titanic magazine (click image to enlarge)
Extremely hurtful: The magazine spoof

Another is for a popular brand of soup flavouring called Maggi renamed after four-year-old Madeleine.

It is without a picture of the Leicestershire youngster but with her name in braille for blind people.

And one promotion is for a brand of chocolate with the usual childish face replaced by that of Madeleine.

It suggests that one cent of every sale will be donated to Interpol.

Titanic editor Oliver Nagel defended the feature today, saying it was not a criticism of the McCanns and it was meant solely for a German audience.

But the couple's spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "This is not only extremely hurtful to Kate and Gerry but totally disrespectful to Madeleine."

The magazine had not sought permission to use Madeleine's image and the McCanns' lawyers were now studying the publication, Mr Mitchell said.

Over the spread the magazine says Madeleine McCann "has become the most famous face in the world and probably the universe" and that it is a logical next step that her image be used for product promotion.

Titanic editor Oliver Nagel said: "It was just for a German audience. The magazine is not ever published outside Germany.

"I would not say anything. We don't go round apologising for the articles we are printing.

"We are not making fun of a child getting lost but we are making fun of the media blowing it all up to such a good height."

The controversy came as it was reported Kate and Gerry McCann will not face new police interviews unless detectives can produce more evidence against them.

Public prosecutor Jose Magalhaes e Meneses reportedly refused to sanction any further moves against the couple, from Rothley, without seeing stronger evidence that they may have been involved in their daughter's disappearance.

Mr Mitchell said the McCanns were "entirely innocent" and they welcomed the reported move.

Gerry McCann, a consultant cardiologist, is set to return to work at Glenfield Hospital, in Leicester, today, two days short of the six-month anniversary of when his daughter disappeared from their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz.

Silent sobs and prayer, 03 November 2007
Silent sobs and prayer Daily Mirror

The McCanns leave the parish church of St Mary and St John, 03 November 2007

Rod Chaytor In Rothley, Leics

Outside, the chill autumn night was filled with the sights and sounds of happy families celebrating Guy Fawkes night.

Inside the brightly lit parish church of St Mary and St John, Kate McCann silently sobbed as she relived a warm spring Portugal evening, exactly six months before, when Madeleine vanished.

The Rev Rob Gladstone, vicar of Rothley, stepped up to the pulpit and told the 200-strong congregation: "We gather together to encourage one another, and especially Gerry and Kate, in strength, hope, courage and faith."

Everyone prayed aloud for all abducted children.

"Comfort and liberate all those, especially young children, who have been taken away from their families against their will," the congregation intoned as one.

Gerry spoke his way firmly through the written response.

At 9.50 exactly, there was silence. Six months ago to the minute, Madeleine had gone.

Simultaneously, similar services were taking place in Kate's home city of Liverpool, the McCann family base in Glasgow and in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz.

At the end of the service in Rothley, the skies were dark and quiet.

Bonfire parties over, thousands of happy children were tucked up safely in their beds.

And Kate and Gerry McCann stepped through the church to the cold reality of a November night.

Clothes and other items found in bag, 05 November 2007
Madeleine Mcann: DNA hope for Gerry and Kate McCann Liverpool Daily Post
Nov 5 2007
Kate and Gerry McCann were today given fresh hope that Madeleine is alive after learning of the discovery of a bag of clothes with a possible DNA link to their daughter.
The items are said to have been found just over two weeks ago in a lay-by near Faro Airport in Portugal, an hour's drive from Praia Da Luz where the four-year-old went missing on May 3.
It is understood the contents, including a child's T-shirt, a pencil case, a shower curtain, adult jeans and a blue fleece, were handed to the Policia Judiciaria who passed it on to the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham.
After 10 days of analysis, experts there are said to have found traces of hair and skin with a partial DNA match to Madeleine on the adult clothes.
But the link is thought to be only partial - around three on a scale of one to eight.
Although they recognise that the link is at best partial, the McCanns were described as "encouraged" by the development which would suggest she could still be alive and also backs up their view that Madeleine was abducted.
A friend said: "It is encouraging because we think it shows that there is a chance, this could indicate an abductor has potentially discarded clothes on the way from Praia Da Luz.
"We realise this is not conclusive proof but we are encouraged the police have examined it and sent it for analysis so quickly.
"Certainly we feel that whoever owned the clothing has got a lot of questions to answer."
The couple's spokesman Clarence Mitchell declined to comment on the story but called for police to investigate,
"We simply cannot comment on yet another unsourced, speculative report," he said.
"But Gerry and Kate trust that the police will, of course, follow up any potential lead that could indicate she was abducted as that is exactly what happened."
The McCanns marked six months since Madeleine's disappearance with a church service near their home in Rothley, Leicestershire, at the weekend.
There were also prayer services in Liverpool, where Kate's family come from, and Praia Da Luz itself.
The couple were named official suspects by police in September after separate DNA tests on forensic traces in the apartment where they had been staying in Portugal and a hire car.
But they deny any involvement.
Gerry McCann reaffirmed his belief that his daughter is still alive on Saturday.
In a message on his internet blog exactly six months after Madeleine's disappearance he wrote: "It is an incredibly long time for us but must be even longer for Madeleine.
"It is so painful for us simply being separated, but all the more distressing when we have to speculate about the situation Madeleine finds herself.
"We have no idea whether she is suffering but we have to hope and pray that she is being treated like a princess, as she deserves."

Maddie's DNA 'Found On Clothes Dumped In Bag', 05 November 2007
Maddie's DNA 'Found On Clothes Dumped In Bag' Daily Record
By Karen Bale
Nov 5 2007
Skin And Hair Test After Bag Is Discovered
A BAG of clothes containing DNA which could be linked to Madeleine McCann has been found in a layby.
The white carrier bag, which was dumped near Faro airport in Portugal, contained a woman's jeans and a fleece which had hair and skin on them.
Forensic experts say the traces could have come from the missing girl.
Last night, parents Kate and Gerry were hopeful the discovery might lead to a breakthrough in the hunt for Madeleine.
A friend said: "Kate and Gerry are very encouraged by news of this development, which, on the face of it, seems to be extremely significant.
"It backs up what they have always said, which is that Madeleine was taken."
The bag was found by a member of the public a fortnight ago.
It had been dumped 75 miles from the holiday apartment in Praia da Luz where four-year-old Madeleine vanished.
It also contained a shower curtain, a flannel, a green child's T-shirt and a pencil case with a pink heart motif.
The clothes were sent to the Forensic Science Service lab in Birmingham for analysis.
It is believed the fleece and jeans contained a "moderate" DNA match to Madeleine.
A source said: "The DNA isn't an exact match to Maddie's but it does link.
"The blue fleece and jeans were found to contain traces of congealed skin and hair.
"It's the first clue found outside the apartment complex and could provide a trail."
News of the discovery came as the McCanns attended a church vigil to mark the six-month anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance.
Kate and Gerry were joined by 200 people at St Mary and St John church in their home village of Rothley, Leicestershire on Saturday night.
Yesterday, police were investigating a possible sighting of Madeleine at Barcelona airport.
A Portuguese teacher said she saw her there a few weeks after she disappeared.
Police insiders say the hunt for Madeleine will be wound up by Christmas.

Police 'looked on as Madeleine crime scene was trampled by circus of people', 06 November 2007
Police 'looked on as Madeleine crime scene was trampled by circus of people' Daily Mail
Last updated at 14:50pm on 6th November 2007
Two Portuguese officers among the first to investigate Madeleine McCann's disappearance yesterday blamed their superiors for allowing the initial crime scene to be contaminated by a 'circus' of people.
Breaking a six-month silence, the pair said the behaviour of senior detectives in the first few hours of the investigation had made Portuguese police an international laughing stock.
Speaking for the first time about the night of May 3, the rank-and-file officers said they looked on in horror as potential evidence trampled underfoot in Kate and Gerry McCann's holiday apartment.
Total strangers were allowed to wander in and out of the two-bedroom flat when it should have been sealed off as a crime scene, according to the duo's damning accounts.
One said: "It was chaos. The world and his dog were in that room just to look under a bed. It was crazy allowing so many people to trample through.
"There was nothing we could do. The damage had already been done."
The officers, who spoke on condition that they were not identified, arrived at the Ocean Club complex within two hours of Mrs McCann raising the alarm that Madeleine, then approaching her fourth birthday, was missing.
Referring to the senior detectives, one of the men said: "They know they mucked up. They regret it because now the whole world's laughing and pointing fingers in disgust, saying how incompetent the Portuguese police are.
"The world's eyes are on us and we mucked up big and there's nothing they can do to change things - it's too late."
Both men are officers in the Guarda Nacional Republicana, the Portuguese force which acts as the country's rank-and-file police.
The duo, who between them have 35 years' experience, said they were horrified by what they found at the apartment in Praia da Luz.
Other GNR officers and their superiors had allowed the McCanns, their friends, other police officers and total strangers to walk through it and even pick up items.
One officer told the Mail: "It had been completely compromised before we arrived.
"There was nothing to protect. It should have been done.
"To arrive as back-up and find a circus walking in and out of a possible crime scene, well... it's ridiculous."
His colleague added: "It's not brain surgery and probably, in this case, could have saved a lot of speculation, heartache and unnecessary investigation time and money."
The pair said "hysterical civilians" were running in and out of the apartment, and said their colleagues had called the Policia Judiciaria - the country's equivalent of the CID - because they felt "something wasn't right".
One said of the McCann group: "They were upset, panicking, wideeyed, the usual, but there was something else.
"They were scared - not the usual scared, they were jumpy, nervous. It wasn't normal. None of it was normal.
"They'd all been drinking. They weren't falling over but it was hard to deal with them. They were hard to get sense out of."
Mr and Mrs McCann, both 39, and their seven friends have always denied any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.
But one of the officers said he thought the parents would be "suspects for ever" because of the bungled investigation.
He said: "This case has no end. It'll get filed away with an open verdict. The parents will be suspects for ever."
In a telling insight into opinions within Portugal's police forces, his colleague added: "They left their babies alone every night. Now they'll forever be known as 'that couple who got away with it'. That's a fair price."

Diplomats concerns about McCanns, 03 December 2007
British diplomat warned Foreign Office of concerns over McCanns Daily Mail
Last updated at 10:18am on 3rd December 2007

The Foreign Office was alerted to fears over Gerry and Kate McCann by a British diplomat in Portugal just days after their daughter Madeleine went missing.

The diplomat was sent to the holiday resort of Praia da Luz in the days following the four-year-old's disappearance and soon became concerned over "inconsistencies" in the testimonies by her parents and their friends.
After visiting the McCanns, the unnamed diplomat sent a report to the Foreign Office in London, admitting his worries about "confused declarations" of the McCanns' movements on the night of May 3.

He also noted the couple's "lack of co-operation" with the Portuguese police.

The diplomat's concerns were made over four months before Gerry and Kate were named arguidos (suspects) on September 7.

Contents of the letter were leaked to Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure over the weekend.

The diplomat expressed his fears after receiving instruction from the Foreign Office to provide "all possible assistance to the McCann couple".

The French-language paper printed excerpts of the letter, quoting the diplomat as saying: "With the greatest respect, I would like to make you aware of the risks and implications to our relationship with the Portuguese authorities, if you consider the possible involvement of the couple.

"Please confirm to me, in the light of these concerns, that we want to continue to be closely involved in the case as was requested in your previous ­message."

Although the Government was quick to assist the McCanns in the days following Madeleine's disappearance, direct contact with the couple ceased when they were named as suspects.

La Dernière Heure pointed out that a majority of the diplomats originally involved in the case have now been taken off it.

The then-Prime Minister Tony Blair sent special envoy Sheree Dodd to act as a "media liaison officer" for the pair soon after Madeleine vanished.

Ms Dodd has since resigned from the Foreign Office, while the British consul in the Algarve, Bill Henderson, has retired.

John Buck, the British ambassador in Portugal, no longer works in the country.

Come back now, 06 December 2007
Come back now Daily Star (no longer available online)

By Jerry Lawton
06 December 2007

MADELEINE McCanns' parents will find out within 48 hours if the Brit Government will let them face a new grilling over their daughter’s disappearance.

The prosecutor in charge of the case was last night set to send a letter asking for formal permission to re-interview them and their holiday dinner pals - the so-called Tapas Seven - to the Home Office.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, 44, will then decide whether or not to allow the further questioning to take place.

Detectives believe the secret to Madeleine's fate lies within the group and are relying on the new interviews to crack the case that’s gripped the world. They hope the Home Secretary will immediately give the go ahead to the fresh round of interrogations. But police in Portugal have long been suspicious about British Government involvement in the investigation and fear further political interference.

They were suspicious when they discovered Madeleine's heart surgeon dad Gerry, 39, who sits on a Government advisory committee on the health effects of radiation, had received personal phone calls from Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

And they were "unsettled" to discover the PM had discussed the case with Portuguese political chiefs.

A source close to the investigation said last night: "Normally interview requests like this would be granted in minutes.

"But everyone is aware this is a very special case for many reasons.

"Police in Portugal have been aware of a political shadow hanging over it.

"They are not taking anything for granted. That is why they have sweated over this letter and the questions contained in it."

The prosecutor's letter contains list of key questions he wants Brit police to ask the McCanns and pals dining with them in the tapas bar when Madeleine disappeared on May 3.

It also includes instructions on what evidence to introduce during the interrogations - and details of the Portuguese laws the couple are alleged to have breached. Detectives are baffled by "inconsistencies" in their witness statements.

They want the interviews carried out as soon as next week. Police allege Madeleine died in an accident inside the apartment while her GP mum Kate, 39, and dad Gerry were dining with pals in the tapas bar 75 yards away.

They claim the couple disposed of the body to mask their negligence. The McCanns' deny any involvement in their daughter's disappearance and insist she was abducted.

Last night it was revealed the McCanns - who are official suspects - and their friends had been advised to recruit SEPARATE lawyers for the interviews. At least four of the pals could also be named suspects.

The McCanns have axed the London-based public relations firm that has been representing them since they jetted back to Britain after being named suspects.

Media specialists Hanover had been handling more than 100 calls a day at the start, but now interview request had dwindled to two.

They charged the Find Madeleine fund £30,000 for their two months of service - around a third their normal rate. The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell will now handle all the couple's PR single-handed.

A spokesman for Hanover said: "We have passed the management of the press office to Clarence Mitchell.

"This reflects a decrease in international press interest."

Mr Mitchell said: "We are hugely grateful to Hanover. Without the support of their team we would not have been able to cope with the level of international press interest.

"The search continues and our focus remains finding Madeleine."

'Tapas 9' in secret McCann meeting, 11 December 2007
'Tapas 9' in secret McCann meeting Daily Mirror

By Rod Chaytor and Victoria Ward

Kate and Gerry McCann held a secret meeting with the rest of the "Tapas Nine" amid reports that Portuguese police are coming to Britain to re-interview them, it was revealed yesterday.

The friends met last month for the first time since the McCanns' four-year-old daughter Madeleine vanished in Portugal seven months ago.

They were all dining with the couple in a tapas bar near the holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, where Madeleine was sleeping with two-year-old twin brother and sister Sean and Amelie.

Portuguese police were furious about the meeting. A source close to the investigation claimed it was "highly suspicious" that they had met up to "talk tactics".

Detectives are said to be awaiting formal clearance to come to Britain and question the nine again about alleged discrepancies in their statements.

But the couple's spokesman Clarence Mitchell denied that the nine had gathered to square their accounts before a police visit.

He said the emotional reunion "a few weeks ago" at a hotel near the couple's home in Rothley, Leics "was just to discuss the overall situation.

"They weren't comparing notes or doing anything untoward. It was an operational meeting to discuss what might be coming up in the next few weeks.

"They are in touch all the time by phone and emails anyway but decided to meet face to face. They were together for a few hours and discussed the overall position. They wanted to see each other because they hadn't done so for some time."

He added: "It was a private meeting and I therefore don't want to say more about it."

The other seven members of the party are heart specialist Dr David Payne, 41, his doctor wife Fiona, 34, hospital consultant Dr Russell O'Brien, 36, his partner Jane Tanner, 37, endocrinologist Dr Matthew Oldfield, 37, and wife Rachael, 36, and Dr Payne's mother Dianne Webster.

They are key witnesses who gave police crucial evidence supporting the couple's belief that Madeleine was kidnapped.

Jane Tanner claims to have seen a man carrying a small child in pink pyjamas like Madeleine's away from the flat. Three have given statements claiming they saw Robert Murat, the first official suspect, outside the apartment - though he claimed he was at home with his mother.

A friend of the couple claimed the meeting gave the lie to a rumour that some of the party had fallen out with the McCanns and were preparing to change their statements.

The source said: "It was a show of solidarity under police claims that one or two had wanted to change their stories. That is not the case and the meeting showed that.

"It was a meeting to express support by the friends and just to see each other again. They hadn't all seen each other for months."

The friend said the reunion last month was kept secret because of the huge interest it would have generated.

The McCanns were officially made suspects on September 7 by Portuguese police, who believed they accidentally killed Madeleine and hid her body. Some detectives are said to have suspected that some or all of the seven helped cover up the crime.

A furious Portuguese police source said: "This meeting is highly suspicious.

"The McCanns left Portugal and flew home the moment they were made suspects and refused to answer many key questions about what had happened.

"Now, they and their friends are about to be re-interviewed and it is revealed they have met up in secret in a hotel.

"The McCanns are suspects and their friends are witnesses who could soon also have arguido (official suspect) status. They should not be meeting to discuss the case and certainly not the evidence."

Gerry McCann attacks handling of sniffer dogs, 17 December 2007

Madeleine: Gerry's fury at 'bungling' dog handlers Daily Mail

Last updated at 13:07pm on 17th December 2007

Gerry McCann was furious when he saw video tape of British police dog handlers examining the family's hire car, a source revealed today.

He believes they bungled the moment a sniffer dog allegedly detected "the scent of death" in the back of the Renault Scenic.

The animal's reaction led to Mr McCann and his wife Kate being named official suspects by Portuguese officers investigating the 3 May disappearance of their daughter Madeleine.

But Mr McCann has told his legal team that the dog walked around the car and was beginning to walk away but it was brought back by its handler and held at the boot when "it went rigid".

A source close to the McCanns said: "Gerry saw it on the tape. Vehicles were lined up in an underground car park. Gerry says the dog went up to the Scenic, sniffed around it and went to head off.

"But he says he watched the dog brought back to the vehicle and finally it reacts around the boot area.

"Gerry was open-mouthed when he saw it. He feels the dog was manoeuvred into a position where it could react. To Gerry it looked like the dog was being encouraged to react in certain places of relevance."

Portuguese detectives showed the video to Mr McCann during lengthy interrogation. The dogs were used to look for human remains in the McCanns' Praia da Luz apartment and in several vehicles seized by police.

According to the source, the dog spent seconds around vehicles owned by the other official suspect in the case, Robert Murat and his family and friends, but was kept for a minute at the hire car, rented 25 days after Madeleine vanished from the family's apartment in Praia da Luz.

The boot was later said to show traces of Madeleine's DNA and evidence that a corpse was kept in there - claims disputed by the McCanns who have had their own tests carried out.

The family have compiled a dossier of evidence to disprove the police case against them. This includes analysis of evidence provided by the sniffer dogs which they claim is unreliable.

The claims over the handling of the dogs comes amid growing anger over the revelation that Mr Murat had sat in on a police interview with one of the so-called Tapas Nine, the group of friends dining together when Madeleine, three, went missing.

Just a couple of days later, Mr Murat, 33, was made an arguido or official suspect.

Last night, a friend of the couple said they feared he may have influenced the police's understanding of any statement made in the interview.

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files


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