The Portuguese detective leading the Madeleine McCann
sacked from the inquiry
after launching an astonishing public attack on his
The head of
launches an astonishing attack
on Gerry and Kate McCann, accusing them of "hindering"
the investigation into their daughter's disappearance.
Kate McCann tells close friends
she is willing to risk jail
to find her daughter after she is told by her legal team
that she faces a year-long jail sentence if she flouts
Portuguese law to discuss details of the four-year-old's
disappearance in public.
The McCanns are dealt a blow as the girl in the
photograph taken in Morocco
is named as
five-year-old Bushra Binhisa
and the woman identified as her mother Hafida.
A photograph is published of a woman in Morocco carrying
a child who bears a resemblance to
Spanish police say they are taking the sighting
The McCanns fear that their mobile telephones have been
bugged by Portuguese police
when they were in the
and since they returned to
The public prosecutor in
admits the case
has hit an 'impasse'.
Sources say all lines of inquiry remain open.
Kate and Gerry McCann's bid to prove their innocence
receives a major boost
after a Portuguese prosecutor ruled there was not enough
evidence to re-interrogate the couple.
The couple also disclose that they talk to their
twins about Madeleine constantly
as the first indications of how they intend to challenge
police suspicions that they killed their daughter
The couple's new spokesman,
begins the family's fightback by stating that the
McCanns are the
victims of a "heinous crime"
who have been cruelly and unjustly accused of harming
The McCanns' legal team contacts American lawyers over a
key sniffer dog evidence was
thrown out of court
in the hope that it may help them fight any charges that
they were involved in the killing of their daughter.
Portuguese police appear to take a step back from
charging Madeleine's parents
after a senior officer said they had "nothing concrete"
to implicate them in her disappearance, a week after
they were made formal suspects. Media tycoon Richard
Branson offers '100,00 to
fund the McCanns' legal fight,
after the couple said they would not seek to use the
money in the Madeleine Fund.
A French newspaper reports that Madeleine died from an
overdose of sleeping tablets.
But British forensic experts said the samples were
unlikely to be good enough to show this. Gerry McCann
hit out at the 'ludicrous allegations' being reported.
A Portuguese prosecutor has made an urgent request
relating to the seizure of a potentially vital document
in the Madeleine case, believed to be
her mother's diary.
A police source says the authorities also want the
judge's permission to access other items, including
Madeleine's favourite toy Cuddle Cat.
Reports allege that DNA samples that are a
"100 per cent match"
to Madeleine have been found in her parents' hire car
and holiday apartment. Portuguese police pass
their file containing evidence
against Mr and Mrs McCann
to the public prosecutor, who almost immediately passes
the file to an "instructional judge"
Kate and Gerry McCann leave
with their two children and go home to Rothley in
Kate McCann returns and is given
as she is asked 22 key questions by police. Gerry McCann
arrives at 2pm to be questioned separately.
He is officially made an"arguido"
about 12 hours after his wife.
Kate McCann is formally questioned
by police in Portimao.
Portuguese police receive "significant"
results of forensics tests
carried out in Britain. Sources say a key piece of
DNA had been found in an "area where it should not have
been." Mr McCann is called two days later and told
he and his wife would be required
for further questioning.
Mr McCann makes
the first direct appeal
to the abductors since the first week, urging them to
end the nightmare. He
storms out of an interview
on Spanish television when asked probing questions about
the investigation, and says the couple will
sue a Portuguese newspaper
after it publishes a front page story claiming
detectives believe the couple was responsible for
Gerry McCann appears at
the Edinburgh International
and appeals to the media to end its obsession with his
Detectives leading the investigation admit off the
record their main theory is now that
Madeleine died by accident.
They say the apartment has "all the answers" to the case
and that all leads on it being a possible kidnap have
Portuguese police announce that a British sniffer dog
the scent of a body
inside the apartment, leading them to the assumption
that the four year old was dead.
The 100th day
since Madeleine disappeared. The McCanns attend a
poignant service of prayers for Madeleine at a church in
Praia da Luz. Without telling the parents, Portuguese
police acknowledge publicly for the first time that
Madeleine could be dead
The Portuguese press start
accusing the McCanns
and their friends. A family spokesperson says they are
disgusted at an apparent smear campaign against them.
The couple are frustrated that police have started to
take a more formal tone with them, and fear the
investigation has gone back to "square one".
British detectives using specially-trained sniffer dogs
and ultra-violet technology discover
traces of blood
in Madeleine's bedroom. Samples are sent away for DNA
Belgian police release a sketch
of a couple seen with a girl who looks like Madeleine in
the Flemish town of
Tongeren. Meanwhile, Portuguese
another search of Robert Murat's
digging up his garden.
Gerry McCann flies to America,
where he meets US
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to discuss how America is tackling child abduction.
Mr Murat returns to the police
in Portimao for further questioning. He returns the next
day for a "confrontation" with three friends of the
McCanns - Russell O Brien, Rachael Oldfield and Fiona
Payne - who claim they saw him at the scene helping with
searches on the night Madeleine disappeared.
A man claiming to know the whereabouts of Madeleine
arrested in the Netherlands
for attempting to defraud the parents of the missing
Spanish police arrest an Italian man and a Portuguese
woman suspected of
attempting to extort money
from the McCann family by pretending to have key
information about the child's whereabouts.
The first of a series of sightings of a girl resembling
reported in Malta.
Other alleged sightings are reported in Morocco, Spain,
Belgium, and even as far away as
Police abandon their search
of scrubland and conclusively rule out the tip-off.
Gerry McCann states he believes Madeleine is still
An anonymous tip-off
published in a Dutch newspaper suggests that Madeleine's
body is buried in deserted scrubland nine miles from
where she went missing.
On a trip to Berlin,
the parents are shocked when asked for the first time in
public if they had anything to do with their daughter's
disappearance. They deny any involvement.
In a sign of increasing desperation, police say they are
trawling through two dossiers of emails and
messages from clairvoyants
who claim to know where Madeleine is. They say they are
trying to find out if any of the messages could be from
Mr and Mrs McCann launch the start of a campaign to
raise awareness of Madeleine's plight by attending
an audience with the Pope
at the Vatican. They go on to give press
conferences and meet officials in
Morocco, the Netherlands, Spain
their first interview,
the McCanns tell of how the "guilt" of not being with
Madeleine when she was abducted will never leave them.
Police finally release the description a man seen
carrying a child on the night of Madeleine's abduction
near their apartment at the time she disappeared. It has
been known since the night itself but was only issued
after pressure from the McCanns, their legal team and
the British Government.
Gerry and Kate McCann leave the
of Praia da Luz
and travel to the holiest site in
the Marian shrine of Fatima
- to pray for their daughter's safe return.
An official website
and fund is launched. The website has more than 125
million hits within a week and raises a fund of more
than '1 million.
Detectives swoop on the home of Russian computer expert
who designed a website for Mr Murat, and interview him
as a witness.
In the first major development, police launch a search
at the home of Anglo-Portuguese man
just 100 yards from where Madeleine disappeared. Mr
Murat is taken in for questioning and made an "arguido"
or formal suspect, the next day. He says he is being
made a "scapegoat" in the investigation.
Madeleine's fourth birthday.
Mr and Mrs McCann attend a special birthday mass in the
village where they say they are convinced Madeleine is
alive. Celebrities including JK Rowling and Sir Phillip
Green donate towards a '2.5 million reward being offered
for Madeleine's safe return. Gordon Brown, then
Chancellor, expresses his sympathy for the parents and
later talks to them offering to do "anything he can to
Police admit the ground search for Madeleine is
being wound down.
Around 350 potential leads - including sketches of
potential suspects - have been followed up and produce
Kate McCann makes
an emotional television appeal
to her daughter's kidnapper, telling whoever has taken
her "please, please do not hurt her".
Detectives say they believe Madeleine was abducted and
say they have a sketch of
a potential suspect.
Sniffer dogs are brought in, the Spanish and border
police and airports notified and volunteer teams comb
the village, resort and beach for clues. The McCanns
speak publicly for the first time, directly appealing to
their daughter's abductors and speaking of their
"anguish and despair".
from the family apartment at the Ocean Club resort in
Praia da Luz, while parents Kate and Gerry dine at a
tapas bar 200 yards away. Kate McCann raises the alarm