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Madeleine suspect details released after Brown talks

Original Source:  SCOTSMAN: 27 MAY 2007
IN PRAIA DA LUZ  Sun 27 May 2007
PORTUGUESE police made an embarrassing U-turn on naming a new suspect after the parents of missing Madeleine McCann held discussions with prime minister-in-waiting Gordon Brown, it emerged last night.

The Chancellor has spoken to Madeleine's father Gerry on several occasions in recent days and pledged to do everything he can to support the family.

The McCanns were desperate to release details about a man seen carrying what was thought to be a child on the night Madeleine went missing and had threatened legal action.

After a meeting between the couple and Portuguese officials, the police relented and a physical description was issued on Friday night.

Yesterday, Mr McCann said the talks were amicable and constructive and insisted the sighting could prove "significant and relevant" in finding the four-year-old.

It is 23 days since Madeleine was snatched from her bed at the Ocean Club Mark Warner resort in the Algarve beach resort of Praia da Luz.

Mr McCann said he and wife Kate wanted "more than anything" to get their daughter back safe and well.

Appealing for help, he said: "Any information, no matter how unimportant you think it could be might be vital in helping Portuguese and British police find our daughter."

Mrs McCann, still holding Madeleine's favourite toy, held her husband's hand as he appealed for help, asking: "Was this man seen anywhere else in or near the town with a child, or what appeared to be a child? Which direction was he heading in? Did he have a vehicle?"

After making their plea, the couple spent the afternoon with two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie, and took them swimming. They are determined to make life as normal as possible for the children as they wait for news of their elder sister. Last night, Mrs McCann revealed the twins now slept in their parents' bed every night.

The top-level discussions with Brown were an added boost to the McCanns after all other leads appeared to have gone cold.

Clarence Mitchell, a spokesman for the family, said: "I can confirm that telephone conversations have taken place between Gerry McCann and Chancellor Gordon Brown.

"During them, Mr Brown offered both Gerry and Kate his full support in their efforts to find Madeleine, although details of the conversations will remain private.

"The conversations took place against the background of the Chancellor's earlier offer to help when he met and spoke to other members of the McCann family in the UK."

A Treasury spokesman refused to confirm that Brown had personally intervened to get the Portuguese police to change their minds.

The McCanns are convinced that a white man aged around 35 to 40 and spotted by a friend of the couple near their apartment at 9.30pm was holding Madeleine. He was medium build, 5ft 10ins tall, wearing a dark jacket and beige trousers.

Portuguese police have known about the sighting for three weeks but because of extraordinary laws which forbid the release of details of an investigation the sighting could not be publicly released.

In other countries, such a vital piece of the jigsaw would have been released early on in the hope of future witnesses coming forward.

Already there have been reports of a possible second sighting of the man carrying what appeared to be a child in Praia da Luz that night.

Although the reports have not been confirmed, a friend of the family said: "This is why the family were pushing to get that out there early because they are hopeful a number of other people might have seen her."


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