How Maddie may look aged six, with brown
hair, left, and fair
The man leading the UK police hunt for Madeleine McCann has spoken for
the first time about "solving it" and having the "best opportunity" yet
to find the little girl who went missing from a Portuguese holiday
apartment five years ago next week.
Det Chief Insp Andy Redwood, speaking to BBC Panorama - Madeleine: The
Last Hope? on BBC One, Wednesday 25 April at 7.30pm, says:
"I am satisfied that the systems and processes that we are bringing to
this set of circumstances will give us the best opportunity to find
those investigative opportunities that we can then present to our
colleagues in Portugal."
DCI Redwood says that his team of 28 detectives and seven civilian
support staff are handling a huge number of reports and documents from
Portuguese police, UK police and private detectives.
"Our initial estimates in terms of the amount of material we are facing
is that it will be somewhere in the region of 40,000 pieces of
information," he says. "There is, ultimately, a process of us
turning every single piece of paper over and interpreting and analysing
what is contained within them."
Asked by reporter Richard Bilton if the mystery of Madeleine McCann's
disappearance could be solved simply by reappraising documentary
evidence - "of a piece of paper that you've got downstairs" - DCI
Redwood says: "Anything is possible, and clearly, within that material,
the answer could lie.
DCI Redwood is the senior investigator on Operation Grange, based at
Belgravia Police Station, which was established last May when Prime
Minister David Cameron responded to a plea from Madeleine's parents to
hold a UK police review of the case. He asked the Home Office to use a
special contingency fund to finance a review by a homicide team from the
(L-R) Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood,
Richard Bilton - (C) BBC
So far, the review has cost taxpayers two million pounds. Officers have
made two trips to Spain and visited Portugal four times, most recently
last week. As Madeleine disappeared in Portugal, Portuguese police
remain the lead agency and DCI Redwood and his team report to a team in
Porto. But in one exchange in his interview with Panorama, he says that
his team in Central London aims to solve the mystery.
"We are here in terms of seeking to bring closure to the case. That
would be the ultimate objective and is our ultimate objective."
Richard Bilton: "What does that mean?"
DCI Redwood: "Well closure means establishing what has happened to
RB: "Solving it?"
DCI Redwood: "Yes, solving it, of course."
He says that one big advantage that Operation Grange has is that for the
first time it has access to all of the available evidence - and has it
all in the one place.
"We are drawing together information from three separate sources," says
DCI Redwood. "The legal enforcement bodies within Portugal, the UK
enforcement agencies of which the police are the main part, and also and
unusually the private investigation world which as we know is an element
that was used by Mr and Mrs McCann in the search for their daughter."
Pressed on why he thinks this is unique, DCI Redwood answers: "Because
at no time before have those three elements been drawn together in one
place. And so what we've done over the past number of months is to
bring to one place all those pieces of the jigsaw."
Panorama also interviews former Home Secretary Alan Johnson MP, who
criticises the initial Portuguese investigation of the daughter of Kate
and Gerry McCann.
"It seems to be disgraceful," says Johnson. "It didn't seem to me that
they had had the benefit of a proper police investigation into the
disappearance of Madeleine."
Johnson was the first Home Secretary to carry out a feasibility study
into whether the Metropolitan Police could review the investigation. He
met Madeleine's parents and says: "I was enormously sympathetic to their
case. All the stuff that appeared in certain tabloids
suggesting they were the guilty party, you know it's very difficult
under that kind of saturation coverage not to start believing in some of
those theories. But by the time they came in to see me I was
absolutely clear that they were the victims in all this."
Johnson calls on Prime Minister David Cameron to launch a 'charm
offensive' on the Portuguese government, in the face of public opinion
which is said to be against the McCanns.
"Now a bit of diplomacy can ensure that you do get the co-operation you
need from Portugal and we do get to the bottom of this."
Panorama also interviews Goncalo Amaral, initially the lead investigator
for the Portuguese Policia Judiciaria, who was removed the case after he
made outspoken criticism of British involvement in the investigation. He
admits to mistakes, saying:
"It's a fact that our investigation had its faults and lost a lot of
time, lots of time. And a lot of things didn't get followed up. And I'm
just as much to blame for that as anyone else."
Since leaving the police in 2008, Amaral has written a book and
presented a DVD about Madeleine's disappearance, in which he makes
allegations against her parents. He is now being sued by Kate and Gerry
Isabel Duarte, the civil lawyer in Portugal who acts for the McCann
family in their libel action against Amaral, says it's not a popular
"I feel alone because I don't feel support, not in public opinion. I
have friends that don't want to talk to me about the case because
everyone believes in Goncalo Amaral. Everyone believes that I am
defending a father and mother that have killed their daughter and got
rid of the corpse."
Portuguese police were forced to admit that they were also conducting a
review of the Madeleine McCann case as a result of Panorama's
After discovering that Operation Grange was working in tandem with a
Portuguese review, Panorama asked Portuguese MEP Ana Maria Gomes to make
enquiries. She discovered that a review of the procedures followed in
the investigation was taking place. It was being conducted by officers
in Porto in Northern Portugal, well away from the Algarve, where
Madeleine went missing and where original investigators are based.
However, it has been kept under wraps in Portugal.
Meanwhile DCI Redwood tells Panorama that despite Portuguese public
opinion being against the parents of Madeleine, he is finding no
hostility from the Portuguese review team and if the case is to be
reopened, it's up to the Portuguese.
"My engagement with the Portuguese is with the police officers sitting
within the review team in Porto. Those officers are engaged, they
are open, they are working with us collaboratively and I've not
encountered with them any of those views.
"But ultimately, the decision around reopening is for them, it is a
sovereign decision for the Portuguese authorities. Obviously what
we seek to do is to bring them the best quality information to assist
them in making that decision."
BBC Panorama - Madeleine: The Last Hope? will be shown tomorrow night
(Wednesday 25 April) at 7.30pm on BBC One.