than 50 potential new leads into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann
surfaced last night as details of a previously unknown police file were
Madeleine McCann Photo: PA
Scores of sightings were reported after the Portuguese police formally
closed their investigation in July 2008 but the majority were not
The 2,000 page dossier contains hundreds of witness statements,
photographs and unsolved lines of inquiry.
The sightings ranged from Europe to the west coast of the US, Hong Kong
and Australasia and were passed on by independent witnesses and
international police forces.
Madeleine was three when she vanished from her family’s
apartment in the
Algarve resort town of Praia da Luz in May 2007.
Kate and Gerry, both 41, have fought to keep their
daughter’s plight in the spotlight, hiring their own private
investigators to continue the search.
They only discovered the existence of the Portuguese police file last
month during their
court battle against Goncalo Amaral, the disgraced
detective who tried to publish a book accusing the couple of covering up
their daughter’s death.
The extensive dossier was released by the Portuguese authorities in
Portimao yesterday after a request by The Daily Telegraph and includes:
:: Information about a British-registered white Mercedes box van which
travelled on a ferry from Tarifa to Tangiers to Morocco from Spain with
false number plates in the week Madeleine went missing. Its driver could
not be traced
:: CCTV footage of a young girl resembling Madeleine which was taken in
a supermarket in New Zealand in December 2007.
:: Repeated sightings of a girl who looked like Madeleine in Gent,
Kortrijk and Bruges in Belgium in November 2008.
:: Information about a girl similar to Madeleine wearing a pyjama top
similar to the one she was wearing when she disappeared who was with an
“unkempt” couple in Agua Marina, near Murcia in Spain on May 15, 2007.
:: Reports in October 2008 of a girl matching Madeleine’s description
being dragged along a road towards Faro airport on May 3, 2007 – the
night she disappeared.
:: An account from lorry driver Michel Guidard who saw how a young girl
who looked like Madeleine wearing a dirty yellow jumper and naked from
the waist down being held at gunpoint at a motorway toll on the A20 near
Paris in August 2008.
:: Photographs from the internet uncovered by a female French detective
showing images of sexual abuse which involved a girl resembling
The previously unseen CCTV footage from New Zealand was sent to the
Portuguese police by Interpol in Wellington in July 2008, just as they
closed their investigation.
A female security guard at a supermarket in Dunedin, on the south
island, thought she saw Madeleine on December 6, 2007.
She said the girl and the man holding her hand had British accents.
Attempts to identify them failed and the information was passed to the
A hand-written note on the papers in the file said: “This has been
checked by PJ and has no relevance to this investigation.”
The McCanns, from Rothley in Leicestershire, are furious that they were
not told about the leads at the time and that they were not followed up
to their satisfaction.
After successfully blocking the publication of
Mr Amaral’s book
Truth of the Lie last month, Mrs McCann said: “There are instances where
information which we think is very credible and worthy of information
has not been actioned.
“We’re gutted, it’s absolutely shocking and difficult. Some of the
information handed in was very credible, it’s heartbreaking to know that
it seems to end there.”
Mr McCann was angered
by Inspector Ricardo Paiva, their former liaison
officer, who was responsible for collating any information that came
into the police about Madeleine after the formal Portuguese
investigation came to an end.
He said: “Inspector Paiva believes Madeleine is dead. How can he
investigate thoroughly if he believes that?
“We know now there is a lot of information just filed away – and that is
“Once the file has been closed, what has actually been done? Next to
Isabel Duarte, the couple’s solicitor, asked to see the police file
after Inspector Paiva mentioned it during the court case.
“It is a disgrace that none of this information was given to Kate and
Gerry. Some of the photos are shockingly similar to Madeleine.
“Every piece was treated the same way – Ricardo Paiva writes on it ‘this
is not relevant to the investigation’.
“I said to him ‘How can you find a person when you are not looking for