Gerry McCann were in Dublin yesterday to raise funds for the
David Cameron was yesterday accused of meddling in police operations
after he asked Scotland Yard to investigate the disappearance of
Labour peer Toby Harris, a senior member of the Metropolitan Police
Authority ' the body which governs Britain's biggest force ' accused the
Prime Minister of undermining the operational independence of police.
He said Mr Cameron's intervention 'drives a coach and horses' through
rules meant to protect police from political interference.
Mr Cameron called for a fresh inquiry into the 2007 disappearance of
Madeleine in Portugal following a personal appeal by her parents
But Lord Harris, a former chairman of the MPA, said the intervention
raised 'big questions' about the politicisation of the police.
He said the Met should not be made 'the default investigator for every
case in the world involving a British citizen'.
Writing on his blog, he said: 'Whilst no one doubts the desirability of
doing what can sensibly be done to find out what has happened to
Madeleine McCann, I can imagine that the senior leadership of the
Metropolitan Police are not exactly happy about this.
It again embroils their officers in a high-profile investigation, where
the chances of success are unclear, and which will divert limited
investigative resources away from other matters.'
Accused of undermining operational independence of police
The Daily Mail has learned that privately a number of senior officers
share Lord Harris's misgivings.
Lord Bradshaw, Liberal Democrat peer and vice-chairman of Thames Valley
Police Authority, described Mr Cameron's move as a 'PR exercise'.
He told Channel 4 News: 'I am mightily worried about the politicisation
of the police force. What appears on the face of it to be fairly
innocuous orders, it's a fairly short step from there to telling the
police they have got to investigate this rather than that.
'This did take place in Portugal where the Met's writ doesn't run. I
doubt if they have got many Portuguese-speaking officers. I don't
believe that our police can investigate the Portuguese police force.'
Gerry McCann, who have been on a media interview marathon to
coincide with the launch of the new book 'Madeleine', leae
the RTE studios in Dublin last night
Mrs McCann said the new Scotland Yard involvement in the
case was 'a step in the right direction'
The criticism comes just days after Lib Dem peers, including Lord
Bradshaw, helped inflict a Lords defeat on the Government's plans for
directly elected police commissioners.
McCann went missing from the family's holiday apartment in
Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007
Downing Street said the Prime Minister had intervened because of the
exceptional circumstances of the case. A spokesman denied Mr Cameron was
'dancing to a media agenda'.
It added that the request to the Met, made via Home Secretary Theresa
May, was just that, and not an order.
In a letter, Mr Cameron told the McCanns: 'Your ordeal is every parent's
worst nightmare' the strength and determination you have both shown
throughout is remarkable.'
Labour last night distanced itself from Lord Harris's comments. Shadow
home secretary Yvette Cooper said the party 'fully backs Kate and Gerry
McCann's request for information in Madeleine's case to be reviewed'.
Met sources said the force will work on the basis that Maddie could
still be alive. Up to 20 officers in the Specialist Crimes Directorate
will conduct an exhaustive 'paper review' of tens of thousands of pages
of police files.
Potential new leads will be forwarded to Portuguese police.
Madeleine disappeared from a holiday flat in Praia da Luz in the Algarve
on May 3, 2007. The Portuguese police inquiry was shelved in July 2008.