Footballer Ronaldo made a public appeal on television
abduction experts were flown to Portugal last night in an
"unprecedented move" designed to shore up the floundering police
investigation into the abduction of Madeleine McCann.
came as Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portugal and Manchester United
footballer, made a public appeal for help to find the missing
Claims that a
British paedophile network could be responsible for her kidnapping
strengthened yesterday, but criticism of the police inquiry
continued to mount.
specialist ''profilers'' from the Child Exploitation and Online
Protection Centre will advise the Portuguese police on the
behavioural traits of paedophiles
It also emerged
yesterday that calls from all across the UK are being passed on to
Portuguese authorities through police in Leicester. Fleeting hopes
of an end to the ordeal of Madeleine's parents, Gerry and Kate, were
dashed last night after reports of a sighting of her in north
Portugal were dismissed by police as a false alarm. Ronaldo, who was
recently voted Footballer of the Year, attempted to boost the search
after volunteering to make a televised appeal.
He said: "I was
very upset to hear about the disappearance of Madeleine and I would
ask for anybody with any information to come forward. Please come
detectives claimed yesterday that they have 350 suspicious sightings
and leads which are being followed, and officers have held formal
interviews with more than 100 people.
Sources close to
the investigation said a key line of inquiry is that Madeleine was
"kidnapped to order" by a paedophile ring.
A list of British
sex offenders with links to Portugal and particularly the Algarve
has sent to police. A witness claimed to have seen a suspect
stalking the area a week before the abduction and making a series of
telephones calls. Madeleine, who is four on Saturday, was abducted
from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Algarve, on
Thursday night as she slept.
At 5pm yesterday
police set up roadblocks around the town of Nelas, 300 miles north
of Praia da Luz.
reports of a blonde girl, apparently matching Madeleine's
description, seen in a supermarket with a man she seemed reluctant
to be with.
reports claimed that CCTV footage of the pair at the supermarket was
being prepared to be sent to the McCanns for identification.
discounted the sighting as a false alarm after the man was stopped
in his car and confirmed as being the girl's father.
Olegario Souza, one of the police chiefs leading the investigation,
said: "It was a false alarm. It is just one more follow up."
complaints about the Portuguese police inquiry, the British
ambassador to Lisbon spoke out yesterday to defend the handling of
Madeleine's distraught parents Gerry and Kate, John Buck emerged to
say that the couple appreciated the Portuguese efforts and said
specialists from the two countries were working well together.
He also revealed
he had been in touch with Portuguese cabinet ministers and the
office of the Prime Minister.
Mr Buck, who has
visited the couple repeatedly throughout their ordeal, said after
his latest visit: "I wanted to assure myself personally that the
necessary links between British and Portuguese experts here on the
ground were working well, and they are."
He added: "They
(the McCanns) are very pleased with the collaboration of the British
authorities, they are in close touch with Interpol and Europol and I
know Kate and Gerry, with whom I have just been speaking over the
last hour, are very grateful for their efforts."