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McCanns may hire private detectives

Original Source: TIMES: 21 MAY 2007

David Brown and Steve Bird in Praia da Luz
Last updated at 12:00AM, May 21 2007


The father of Madeleine McCann is today discussing plans to hire private detectives to help in the international search for his daughter after flying home from Portugal last night.

Gerry McCann hopes that private detectives will find leads in the hunt after Portuguese police admitted they could find no trace of her. They do not have enough evidence to arrest the sole suspect.

A spokeswoman for Mr McCann and his wife, Kate, said that they were keeping an open mind about the use of private detectives, “but have said they will use whatever means necessary to bring back Madeleine”. Any information obtained would be fed into the police investigation.

Mr McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, will have meetings with the organisers of the Find Madeleine campaign and with lawyers. He returns to Portugal tomorrow.

It is thought that the visit could enable the couple to arrange to remain in Portugal. They had been on a week’s holiday. Yesterday, as they attended Mass, children handed them three sunflowers – one for each of their children.

The couple, both 38, are considering travelling in Europe to promote the hunt. Security camera footage of passengers at Faro airport, in the Algarve, is being studied by detectives. They have been told that a little girl who appeared to have been sedated was seen there.

Inquiries remain focused on the relationship between Robert Murat, the first suspect in the case, and Serguei Malinka, a Russian website designer who also lives in Praia da Luz. Portuguese detectives are expected to ask their British counterparts to search locations including Mr Murat’s former marital home in Norfolk.

Mr Murat, 33, has told police that he was at home with his mother on the night Madeleine went missing and has strenuously denied any involvement in her abduction.

Detectives have failed to find any evidence on computers owned by Mr Malinka, 22, after he allegedly cleared their hard drive storage just hours before they were seized.

The Treasury has been looking into reducing the campaign’s tax bill after it emerged that it was liable for VAT and would not receive gift aid. The campaign, which is helping to cover the family’s costs, is not eligible for charitable status.

On the web

— Press reports claimed 90 million people visited the website last week; this is not true

— “Hits” refer to any file, or piece of data, requested by a site from a web server. When you visit a website, your computer has to call up numerous files just to display the homepage fully

—, which monitors internet traffic, said that 0.067% of users worldwide visited the site Saturday; 46% were from Britain, 16% from Portugal

— It was ranked the 2,649th most visited site in Britain and the 1,779th in Portugal


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