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Maddie mystery of ex-soldier and his camper van: Police contacted Army for information days before confirming they had identified new 'persons of interest'



Original Source: Mail: 25 May 2013

By Marc Nicol and Nick Constable
PUBLISHED:23:09, 25 May 2013 | UPDATED:11:08, 26 May 2013

  •  While former guardsman Peter Verran has not been accused of any wrongdoing, the timing is significant

  • McCann family also wants to speak to him about his whereabouts at the time of Madeline's disappearance

Scotland Yard is investigating claims made by a former soldier in connection with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.  

Days before confirming they had identified new ‘persons of interest’, officers from the Homicide and Serious Crime Command contacted the Army seeking information about Peter Verran.  

While Mr Verran has not been accused of any wrongdoing, the timing is significant.  

Questions: Madeline McCann before her disappearance in 2007 and former Guardsman Petter Verran

Ex-Guardsman Mr Verran first came to the attention of police in 2009 when he emerged to dispute the alibi of British child abuser Raymond Hewlett, 64

Sources close to the McCanns say the family also want to speak to Mr Verran about his whereabouts at the time Madeleine was snatched from the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007. 

Mr Verran first came to the attention of police in 2009 when he emerged to dispute the alibi of British child abuser Raymond Hewlett

Hewlett was living in the Algarve just an hour’s drive from where the youngster disappeared. 

However, in publicly pointing the finger at Hewlett, who denied abducting Madeleine, Mr Verran apparently neglected to mention the disappearance of his own camper van within months of Madeleine’s disappearance, or the fact he had been in Portugal.

 Those details, disclosed in documents held by the Royal British Legion, show he sought emergency funds from the organisation after claiming his van and all his possessions had been stolen.


 The documents also reveal he travelled through Portugal.


When Mr Verran came forward, he was interviewed by Leicestershire Police, and by private investigators working for the McCanns, as an informant. 


Mr Verran told of a conversation he had with   Hewlett in September 2007 after they met at a Moroccan campsite.


Hewlett admitted to owning a white Transit-style van around the time of Madeleine’s disappearance – the van was similar to one seen parked near the Ocean Club.  


Hewlett, who died in 2010, said in a newspaper interview that a blue Dodge truck was his only vehicle at the time.


A source close to the McCanns said Mr Verran made no mention of his camper van being stolen, or the time he spent in Portugal, to private detectives working for the family. It is not known what the former soldier told police. 

Waste Scrubland in Tavira, Portugal, where suspect Raymond Hewlett stayed at in 2007, at the same time Madeline McCann was abducted in Playa da Luz, 1 hours drive away


 We’d like Mr Verran to explain these omissions from his interviews with us, and say when he was in Portugal,’ said the source.  


‘It is potentially interesting that this information has now emerged and we will be discussing this development with police.’


Earlier this month, Scotland Yard detectives approached the Army seeking to establish the whereabouts of 50-year-old Mr Verran’s military records.

How she could look: This impression of how Madeline McCann might appear now was released last year

A source close to the probe said: ‘There is almost certainly an innocent explanation behind the theft of Mr Verran’s van and his journeys through Portugal and Morocco.  


'But he challenged Hewlett’s version of events without seemingly admitting he, too, was in Portugal, or that his only method of transport vanished.’ 


The Met would not confirm officers had sought Mr Verran’s Army records. The Ministry of Defence declined to comment.


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