As Portuguese police fly to
the UK to listen in on interviews with
the so-called "Tapas 7", what is known about the people who are key
witnesses in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann?
Jane Tanner said
she saw a man carrying a small child
The seven friends who dined
with Kate and Gerry McCann on the night of Madeleine's disappearance are the
central witnesses in this case.
Their evidence has been
pored over by the police, and their backgrounds closely scrutinised by
journalists and bloggers alike.
None of the seven is a
formal suspect or "arguido". and all have cooperated willingly and
voluntarily with the investigation. Bound by judicial secrecy laws, most
have made no public comment about what they saw.
Their friendship goes back
a long way. Four of the group - Matthew Oldfield, Russell O'Brien, David
Payne and Fiona Payne - studied medicine together at
University in the early
1990s - the Paynes becoming a couple.
Doctors Kate and Gerry
McCann moved to Leicestershire in 2000, and quickly became part of the
medical social circle.
Three other holidaymakers
completed the table at the poolside tapas restaurant on 3 May last year:
Rachael Oldfield (married to Matthew), Jane Tanner (partner of Russell
O'Brien) and Diane Webster (Fiona Payne's mother).
The couples had travelled
to the Algarve
from East Midlands and Gatwick airports,
together with eight young children.
disappearance, the nine adults collectively provided the police with a
timeline of the evening.
As far as they were
concerned, the timeline was a common sense means of speeding up the
investigation; but elements within the Portugal's
Policia Judiciaria (investigating police) seem to have interpreted the move
as a closing of ranks.
way, the timeline is absolutely key to understanding what might have
happened to Madeleine.
This is how the group
recalled the evening:
and Gerry McCann pick up their three children from afternoon tea at the
begins a game of tennis with other guests
Payne checks on Kate and the children, at Gerry's request and sees Madeleine
· 1900: Gerry
finishes playing tennis
and Gerry McCann arrive at the Ocean Club's tapas restaurant
· 2105: Gerry
checks on his children, and sees Madeleine alive and well
· 2115: Having
left the table to check on her own children, Jane Tanner sees a man carrying
a child, close to the McCanns' apartment
· 2130: Matthew
Oldfield checks on the McCanns' apartment. Hearing no noise from the
children's bedroom, he assumes all is well and leaves without seeing
· 2200: Kate
McCann checks on her children. Madeleine is gone.
Arguably the most
significant witness is Jane Tanner.
She has already given
detectives a detailed description of a man she saw, close to the ground
floor corner apartment where the McCanns were staying.
She says he was carrying a
child, dressed in pinkish pyjamas - the same colour that Madeleine was
wearing that evening.
The man has never come
forward or been traced by the police, leading the McCanns to conclude that
Jane Tanner almost certainly witnessed their daughter being abducted.
Last November, Ms Tanner
told the BBC's Panorama programme: "I know what I saw, and I think it's
important that people know what I saw - because I believe Madeleine was
Based on her account, the
McCanns produced an artist's impression of the man, in the hope that it
might jog the memory of other holidaymakers.
Of the remaining friends,
David Payne was the last person - besides Kate and Gerry McCann - to see
Madeleine alive that evening, so his recollection of timing is crucial.
Matthew Oldfield was the
only group member, beyond Madeleine's parents, to enter the McCanns'
apartment during the dinner.
If Jane Tanner did
unwittingly see Madeleine's kidnapper, the timeline suggests that the
abduction took place before Mr Oldfield made his check.
But not having set foot in
the children's bedroom, he cannot be sure of whether the little girl was
there or not.
Finally, three of the group
have offered significant evidence relating to Robert Murat, the third
arguido in the case.
Russell O'Brien, Fiona
Payne and Rachael Oldfield all say they saw Mr Murat later that evening,
during the frantic search for Madeleine.
Their testimony is directly
at odds with his assertion that he was at home with his mother all night.
Robert Murat says the McCanns' three friends are, at best, confused; and, at
worst, lying. But they, in turn, remain certain of what they saw.