Madeleine McCann: 195 leads and she is still alive, police believe
• Detectives have revealed they are investigating 195 potential leads to finding her alive
• A new image of how she might look as nine-year-old has been released
• Scotland Yard have urged Portuguese police to reopen their search
The detective heading the Metropolitan police review of the case said there were many “investigative opportunities” but refused to disclose what evidence they had uncovered to suggest the little girl, who went missing five years ago next week, was alive.
The developments came as police issued a picture of what Madeleine might look like as a nine year old. The image, showing features based on those of the three year old who vanished from her family’s holiday flat in Praia da Luz in 2007, was produced in “close collaboration” with her parents, Gerry and Kate McCann.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said he believed Madeleine’s disappearance was a “stranger abduction”. He confirmed that his team of more than 30 officers had been out to Portugal seven times, including a visit to the ground-floor holiday flat in Praia da Luz. Madeleine went missing as her parents dined with friends nearby.
Mr Redwood said his officers had dealt with 40,000 pieces of information but Portugal was the focus in the attempt to find her. He added “evidence that she is alive stems from the forensic view of the timeline” that there was the opportunity for her to be taken. Investigations show “there do appear to be gaps”, he added.
The investigative review was launched last year after a meeting between former Met commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and the Home Office.
Detectives in Portugal are also understood to want the case reopened but must gain judicial approval via the courts.
Mr Redwood added: “So far, I have conducted seven visits to Portugal. Two of those visits have been at senior level, one of those visits was a visit to the actual resort itself and four of the other visits were directly face to face with the review team.
“We would like the case to be reopened, our case is clear… [But] I should stress quite clearly that the decision is in Portugal.”
He said this did not mean that his review of the case was toothless. “What we are not doing is just passively passing through material. We are actively seeking to bring closure in this case.”
Yesterday a spokesman for Mr and Mrs McCann said they were pleased with the new image of Madeleine. Mr Redwood said he hoped the picture, created using age-progression technology, would remind people of the case. He added: We hope you will agree that this image has real impact. It has the feel of a school photograph. It is the image that every parent and grandparent proudly displays in their home for all to see.”
“We are releasing the age progression image today with a specific appeal. If you know where Madeleine McCann is now or you have new direct information or evidence about what has happened to her then please contact us.”
The police team has compiled and reviewed material from three separate strands – the Portuguese investigation, inquiries in the UK and the work of private investigators. The information gathered totals about 100,000 pages.
Mr Redwood said: “We have approached this review with a completely open mind, placing Madeleine McCann at the heart of everything we do.”
Anyone at who was at Praia da Luz between April 28 and May 3 2007 is asked to come forward if they have not already spoken to police.