The parents of Madeleine McCann today said they would travel around Europe in
order to widen the search for their four-year-old daughter, who went missing in
a southern Portuguese holiday resort 18 days ago.
"We will travel wherever is necessary to ensure people across Europe
recognise Madeleine's picture and we will encourage them to come forward with
any information which might lead to Madeleine's safe return," Gerry
McCann, Madeleine's father, said.
"Kate and I will play a key part in that campaign."
He was talking on his return from a lightning visit to Britain to meet
police investigators there and to coordinate with the organisers of the
campaign to find Madeleine.
Mr McCann appealed for holidaymakers who have been Praia da Luz to send their
photographs to the British police's Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre
at www.madeline.ceopupload.com so
they could be analysed by computer software that would look for known criminals
or paedophiles appearing in the background.
"We would encourage anyone who has photographs to submit them to the
police," he said.
He also made an indirect appeal for people to respect the presumption of
innnocence of Robert Murat, the 33-year-old Briton who is the only formal
suspect in the case, whose house lies just 150 yards from the apartment where
Madeleine went missing on May 3.
"We hope that everyone else treats any suspects the way we would hope to
be treated and they are presumed innocent until someone is charged, arrested
and convicted of any criminal offence," he said.
He said that, at this stage, the family did not see a need to hire private
detectives, though it had not ruled out the possibility of sending people to
investigate future sightings abroad.
"We don't know that she is in Portugal," he said. "We
have to consider the possibility that she has crossed borders."
Mr McCann said that the Find Madeleine Fund, which has so far raised £184,000,
was preparing to appoint a fund manager and a campaign manager.
"The campaign manager's role will be to extend and co-ordinate our family
compaign organised by ourselves and freinds ato keep Madeleine's profile his
across Europe," he said.
Mr McCann said he had been impressed by the incident room set up by Leicester police and the computer links they had set up
with their Portuguese counterparts.
His trip back to the Leicestershire village
of Rothley on Monday had
brought home to him not just the extent to which the search for Madeleine has
become a national phenomenon but how sad it was to be there without her.
"We should have been coming home as a family of five," he said.
The McCanns were due to join a nationwide ten minutes of prayers for Madeleine
organised by Carmelite nuns in Portugal
tonight. "Both of us have taken a great deal of strength from out
faith," Madeleine's mother, Kate McCann said.
They are also due to travel to Portugal's holiest shrine, at Fatima in the
north, tomorrow to pray for Madeleine's safe return as they prepare to stay for
the indefinite future.
"We are nowhere near wanting to leave Portugal," said Mr McCann.
Mrs McCann added that the couple have been pleased by the safe return of Paige
Hayhoe, aged 11, who went missing in Cambridge