McCanns fear their mobile phones have been bugged

THE parents of Madeleine McCann fear their mobile phones are being bugged, it emerged yesterday.

It is understood Kate and Gerry McCann and their advisers work on the assumption that surveillance is taking place and that conversations on mobiles and other forms of electronic communications are "unsafe".

The couple are said to believe that they have been bugged in the past and are concerned it could still be happening.

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Further doubt was also cast on the reliability of DNA evidence allegedly found in the car the family hired three weeks after their daughter vanished. Some of this was said to be a match with Madeleine's.

This material caused the Portuguese police to officially name the McCanns as suspects.

However, it has emerged that the Renault Scenic was used as a "rubbish lorry" by the family after they moved from their holiday flat at Praia da Luz to a villa nearby because there were no proper rubbish bins.

The car's boot was loaded up with bin bags containing food waste, including rotting meat, as well as used nappies from the McCanns' two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie, and driven to a nearby waste area.

A source close to the family was reported as saying it was possible that strong scents left by the rubbish could have caused a reaction from police sniffer dogs.

Madeleine was six days short of her fourth birthday when she disappeared from the family's holiday apartment in the Algarve while her parents dined with friends nearby.

Meanwhile, the McCanns said they were not expecting a visit from Portuguese police, despite widespread speculation that detectives have arrived in the UK with a list of fresh questions about the four-year-old's disappearance in May.

Asked about such reports, the family's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "There's nothing to suggest that at all."

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The McCanns live in Leicestershire, and police there also said they were "not aware" of any Portuguese officers being in the county.

It was also reported that new DNA tests which could hold the key to the investigation are being carried out in Britain.

The tests are looking for traces of Madeleine's DNA in material gathered around Praia da Luz, including alleged blood samples found in an apartment close to the one from which she disappeared on 3 May.

Results of the tests, taking place at the Forensic Science Service laboratory in Birmingham, could be sent to Portugal within days, according to reports.

Last night the McCanns' solicitors denied they were to have talks about DNA testing with legal representatives of a man accused of the Omagh bombing.


MADELEINE McCann's younger brother and sister, two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie, visited their nursery yesterday for the first time since their return to the UK.

Newly-appointed spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "The children went to nursery for the first time since they came back.

"They enjoyed it. They are still oblivious in many ways to what is happening. Madeleine is talked about." Their parents want the twins life to be as normal as possible.