Portuguese police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have been
given permission to return to England
to re-interview members of the group who were on holiday with her parents.
Detectives are expected to travel next week with a list of questions for the
seven friends who dined with Kate and Gerry McCann on May 3, the night
There is a possibility that Mr and Mrs McCann may also face further questioning.
The development will come as a blow to the McCanns who only hours earlier said
they hoped that they would be cleared by Christmas of any involvement in their
daughter's disappearance in the the Algarve.
Madeleine's parents, both 39, had expressed a belief that their status as
arguidos - formal suspects - could be lifted after a Portuguese police team,
who flew to England
this week, were told by their British counterparts that forensic science tests
had proved "inconclusive".
Writing on his internet blog, Mr McCann said: "We have been told that all
the forensic test results are now available.
"As we have stated all along, we are confident that the results will no
way incriminate us and hopefully everyone can concentrate on finding Madeleine
and her abductor."
But following "crisis talks" over the future of the investigation at
the regional headquarters of the Policia Judiciaria in Faro, detectives were
finally granted permission to pursue their inquiries in Britain,
according to reports on Portuguese television.
Detectives have long believed the key to unravelling the mystery of Madeleine's
disappearance shortly before her fourth birthday could lie with the so-called
Jose Magalhaes e Menezes,
the public prosecutor, had refused to sanction further questioning of the group
until the full scientific test results were known.
The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "Kate and Gerry's friends
have consistently said they are happy to be re-interviewed by police if
necessary. Indeed, they are keen to help if it clears up any inconsistencies.
"They, like Gerry and Kate, have nothing to hide."