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Emotional return as Maddy's father adds his ribbon to sea of yellow

Original Source: Yorkshire Post: 22 May 2007
Published on 22/05/2007 08:51

Gerry McCann last night added his own yellow ribbon to the thousands left in support for his missing four-year-old daughter, Madeleine. 

In his first visit to his home in Rothley, Leicestershire, since Madeleine went missing, he looked pleased and emotional as he viewed the sea of ribbons, flowers, teddy bears and toys left at the village's war memorial.  


Chris Allen, who runs a florist shop in the nearby town of Syston, where Kate McCann is a regular customer, said: "Gerry said that he was really, really moved with everything that was happening here and the support that he was getting." 


Mr McCann returned to the UK to deal with "personal matters" and meet lawyers and organisers of the Find Madeleine fund. He is expected to be back in Portugal today. 


Meanwhile, the only suspect in the case has collapsed in front of his family, a friend said last night. 


It is the second time Robert Murat, 33, has fainted since he was questioned over Madeleine's abduction from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3. 


Tuck Price, a family friend of the Murats, said: "He collapsed right in front of his entire family." 


Mr Price said a doctor had checked Mr Murat and found no blood pressure problems, but the incident showed the massive strain he was under after being named as a suspect. 


Mr Murat has welcomed new moves to trawl through thousands of holiday snaps looking for known paedophiles. 


British police have appealed for people to send them pictures taken in the resort in southern Portugal in the fortnight before Madeleine was snatched. 


It is understood the photographs will be run through a facial recognition programme and checked against a database of images of UK paedophiles and other criminals. 


The software can also find "new" suspects previously unknown to police if the same person repeatedly appears in different photographs. 


Mr Murat described the move as a "great idea", according to his friend Mr Price.



Mr Price added that the appeal for holiday photographs showed that Portuguese police knew they had the wrong suspect. 


He said: "Why else would they be doing this? If they are so convinced about Robert why would they still be looking?" 


It is understood Portuguese police have already been going through photographs taken by the McCanns and their friends before Madeleine was kidnapped.



It also emerged yesterday that Mr Murat, who strenuously denies any involvement in the four-year-old's disappearance, believes DNA tests could prove his innocence as early as this week. 


Portuguese police have indicated he remains their strongest line of inquiry but have refused to confirm reports in local newspapers that forensic tests at Mr Murat's villa are all negative.



Mr Murat has also asked British PR guru Max Clifford to represent him in his campaign to clear his name. 



Mr Murat wants to speak out to defend himself, but could face jail under Portugal's strict "secrecy of justice" laws if he does so.



Mr Clifford said he spoke to Mr Murat and his mother Jenny, and offered them free advice about handling the media. 


He said he had "a tremendous amount of sympathy" for Mr Murat but would not formally represent him until he is cleared. 


"When I spoke to Robert, he was in tears and very emotional about the fact that I took the call from his aunt and spoke to them," he added. "He said 'I am innocent and I will prove I am innocent', and thanked me for listening to him." 



Meanwhile, Madeleine's mother Kate maintained a vigil in Praia da Luz where holidaymakers and locals joined a minute's silence to show their solidarity with the McCanns following an appeal in an anonymous email circulated throughout Portugal at the weekend.  



Michael Wright, from Skipton, the husband of Mrs McCann's cousin, is in Portugal to lend support. The Portugese resort's owner has also paid for two counsellors from the Centre for Crisis Psychology in Skipton to fly out.   


If you would like to display the official Find Madeleine poster, you can download it here.


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