The rumour mill has been churning in the Algarve for many weeks - but with
the latest developments, the gossip has reached fever pitch.
Secrecy laws in Portugal
keep police from revealing most details of an investigation.
This has only added fuel to the gossip, which has really been flying since Kate
McCann was called in for further questioning by detectives.
Nevertheless, no one here knows, or seems able to remember, where many of the
One couple standing outside the police station in Portimao quoted "a woman
at the hotel who knows someone".
Another person said a cafe owner apparently married to a police officer had
told them all the latest.
Yet another person quoted the Portuguese media, while someone else spouted a
taxi driver's take on the case.
It's easy to see how the tittle-tattle ends up in the papers - it is bandied
about the streets of the Algarve
as if it's fact.
Some of the "wild accusations", as Sky News's crime correspondent
Martin Brunt called them, centre around the night Madeleine went missing.
Rumours also abound about the little girl's favourite cuddly toy, phantom
syringes and one of the hire cars used by the McCanns.
But people here are more circumspect when pressed. "We only heard that...
it's not that we believe it," they say.
Up to 300 people were outside the police station when Kate McCann was released
after 11 hours of questioning on Thursday.
The expression on her face when she left the police station showed she knew
exactly what people were asking: "Why was she held for so long?"
"It's terrible that people are jumping to conclusions," said
Jacqueline, who declined to give her full name.
"You can't imagine the family doing what some people say - never in the
world. But a lot of Portuguese people have been talking like this for a long
Recently, Gerry McCann complained about a lack of restraint by the Portuguese
Perhaps Jacqueline knows why there have been so many negative stories about the
"Everybody wants to know there is no kidnapper or murderer in the Algarve,"