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Key Maddie witness U-turn

Original Source:  SUN: SATURDAY 12 APRIL 2008
By JOHN HIGGINSON Published: Today

THE most significant witness in the hunt for Maddie McCann has withdrawn her statement according to Portuguese newspaper reports.

Jane Tanner, 37, who had said she saw the man who took Maddie on the night of her disappearance has withdrawn her statement, 24 Horas claims.

She has told Portuguese authorities she can no longer be sure the man she saw was carrying Madeleine.

According the the respected newspaper 'Jane Tanner saw a man but cannot say with precision what he was carrying'.

Jane, one of the so-called Tapas Nine, had given detectives a detailed description of a man she saw, close to the ground floor corner apartment where the McCanns were staying on the night of her disappearance. She told them he was carrying a child wearing pink pyjamas -- the same thing Maddie was wearing that night.

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.

The information was also used by police and private detectives employed by the McCann's in the search for Maddie.

The leaked story will be a massive blow to Kate and Gerry McCann as they try to renew the search for their daughter nearly a year after her disappearance.


The pair were already considering pulling out of plans to return to Portugal to help

police reconstruct the events around their daughter Madeleine's disappearance amid a furious row over leaked interviews.

The McCanns believe transcripts of statements they gave to detectives in the hours after their daughter went missing on May 3 last year were deliberately slipped to the media by the Portuguese authorities.

The excerpts include the disclosure that Madeleine and her brother Sean apparently woke up crying the night before the three-year-old's disappearance, but her parents did not hear her as they were in a nearby restaurant.

The interviews disclosed that Madeleine asked Kate, 39, at breakfast on May 3: "Mummy, why didn't you come when we were crying last night?"

The couple are demanding a full internal investigation from the Portuguese Ministry of Justice into whether the detail was deliberately passed to a Spanish journalist to "smear" them on the day they launched a campaign in Brussels for a new Europe-wide child alert system.

Their local MP Stephen Dorrell has pledged to raise the matter with the Foreign Office and it is understood the McCanns' Portuguese lawyers will be protesting to the relevant authorities there.

Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell called for the Portuguese government to "get a grip" of the leaks.

It emerged yesterday that Paulo Rebelo, the detective leading the case, has already flown back to Portugal from the UK - a day earlier than expected.

Mr Mitchell said he hoped this meant Mr Rebelo had gone back "to crack some skulls".

His team of Portuguese police has been in the UK all week sitting in on interviews with the McCanns' friends who were dining with them at the time of Madeleine's disappearance.


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