A MISSING blue tennis bag could hold the key to Madeleine
McCann's disappearance, a TV documentary will claim tonight.
The bag - big enough to carry a small child - belonged to
Maddie's dad Gerry, the programme says.
It is claimed
Portuguese cops have been
hunting for the holdall, which disappeared at the same time as
the four-year-old girl.
The bag emerges as a potentially vital new clue in a Sky News
The Madeleine McCann Mystery.
Yet, bizarrely, the McCanns' spokesman
Clarence Mitchell yesterday
denied it existed - saying Gerry did not own such a bag and
never had done.
Sky's crime reporter
stood by the
documentary's claim last night.
Former detective Tony Rogers, one of Britain's most experienced
police officers, will be seen saying: "If it's a bag of a size
that could be taking away from the flat a child, that would be
of great interest to the investigating officer."
The development came as
Gerry and wife Kate, both
39-year-old doctors, faced their first Christmas without Maddie
- who vanished on May 3 in the Portuguese resort of Praia da
Yesterday, a family friend demanded that the "fundamentally
flawed" case against them be DROPPED immediately by
Portuguese police. The call came over fresh doubts about the
validity of DNA tests.
It is thought the Maddie probe has involved the same process of
so-called "low copy number" DNA testing used in the Omagh
bombing case - thrown out of court after a judge ruled it
Tonight's documentary also claims Portuguese detectives have
failed to find and quiz a British paedophile with links to the
Algarve. He was among 52 British
sex offenders with similar
connections whose details were given to police by
It is not known if he was the man who, in September, was at the
centre of the hunt for the tot after witnesses picked him out
from photos of 100 perverts.
Nor can he be definitely linked to another suspect - the
32-year-old son of expat Brits who is said to have "groomed" and
sexually assaulted a girl of 12 in the resort
two years ago. That man is thought to be hiding somewhere in the
Brunt told The Sun a British source close to the probe said
Portuguese cops had "worked very hard" to find the 52 and rule
them out. But he added: "There is still one man they are
The documentary quotes top forensics consultant Professor David
Barclay. He said Portuguese police had "looked at" paedophiles
in the Praia da Luz area. He added: "They didn't check up on
other people staying in the apartments."
The new call for the McCanns to be cleared followed the storm
over low copy number
testing - a technique
allowing results to be interpreted from samples containing just
a few cells.
The pal said: "If the leaks from the police to the Press are
true that low copy number testing is involved then we would
demand the reliability of these tests is absolutely pinned down
before it is used in cases such as ours.
"It is ridiculous to form a case against someone using evidence
that is fundamentally flawed."
Gerry and Kate went to
church in Rothley, Leics,
yesterday with their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.