BRITISH detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have flown to Portugal, reportedly to discuss possible arrests in connection with the inquiry.
A team from Scotland Yard has reportedly travelled to the Algarve after a letter was sent to Portuguese police asking for help to trace three suspected burglars spotted in the area where Madeleine vanished almost seven years ago.
The team, headed by Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who is leading the Metropolitan Police investigation, are said to have met members of Portugal’s Policia Judiciaria (PJ) and prosecutors yesterday.
The discussions are believed to have centred on getting local officials to sanction the arrests and questioning of the suspects, believed to be a burglary gang.
Mobile phone records allegedly revealed that the gang repeatedly called each other in the hours after three-year-old Madeleine disappeared from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in May 2007.
Madeleine, who was then nearly four, disappeared from the holiday apartment on May 3 2007 as her parents dined at a nearby restaurant with friends.
British detectives launched a fresh investigation into the youngster’s disappearance last July - two years into a review of the case - and made renewed appeals on television in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany.
After shelving their inquiry into Madeleine’s disappearance in 2008, Portuguese authorities said last October that a review had uncovered enough new information to justify reopening it.
In a Christmas message, Mrs McCann said she and her husband were relieved and buoyed by last year’s developments, and urged people to “spare a thought and prayer” for families similar to hers.
In her message, Mrs McCann said: “This year seems to have passed particularly quickly - a sign undoubtedly of a very busy year.
“It would still be a comfort if we could slow time just a little.
“Thankfully, however, there have been some very positive aspects with regards to Madeleine.
“The Metropolitan Police review becoming an investigation and, more recently, the reopening of the case in Portugal.
“We are incredibly relieved and buoyed by these developments and continue to hope for further collaboration in the near future with the possibility of a JIT (joint investigation team) between Portugal and the UK to enhance the search for our dear daughter.”