UK & World News

  • 22 May 2014, 16:48

Madeleine Investigation 'Enters Major Phase'

Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann will enter a "substantial phase of operational activity" in Portugal in the next few weeks.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said detectives could not promise answers, but were checking every credible line of enquiry in the search.

"In the forthcoming weeks we are going to be going to a substantial phase of operational activity on the ground in Portugal," he said.

"It's something that you would expect in any major inquiry.

"A thorough serious crime investigation works systematically through all the credible possibilities, and often in an investigation you will have more than one credible possibility.

"Therefore just because we're doing a substantial phase of work in the forthcoming week doesn't mean that it's going to immediately lead to answers that will explain everything."

UK officers are currently running their own investigation into what happened to Madeleine, who vanished at the age of three from Portuguese holiday resort Praia da Luz in May 2007.

Portuguese police have also reopened their probe into the disappearance, and while they are working with Scotland Yard, detectives have refused to set up an official joint investigation.

Mr Rowley echoed Madeleine's mother Kate McCann's calls for restraint in media coverage of the case.

He said: "I want to be able to go back to Kate and Gerry at some stage in the future and tell them we've got to the bottom of this, or second best is to go back to them and say we've turned over every stone and we can't get to an answer sometimes."

A number Met Police officers hope to be involved in the latest phase of activity.

"The activity in Portugal is led by the Portuguese, that's absolutely crystal clear in law," Mr Rowley said.

"We have some officers who would like to be helping with that on the ground in Portugal, doing some of the work we anticipate. We are putting the finishing touches to the plans to the Portuguese in the coming weeks.

"I anticipate a substantial phase of activity in forthcoming weeks including Portuguese and British officers, but the detail of that is still being finalised with Portuguese colleagues and it will all be under Portuguese leadership."

One line of enquiry for Scotland Yard is a lone male paedophile who staged a series of sex attacks on young British girls while they were on holiday in the Algarve.

Hundreds of people have already made contact with police in response to appeals to try to find the attacker.

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