Ten months after UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he had given orders to the Metropolitan Police to initiate a review into the case of missing British toddler Madeleine McCann comes news that Portuguese police are also taking another look at the evidence.
Reports in Portuguese media have revealed that a team of detectives from the Polícia Judiciária (PJ) in Oporto have been appointed to review the original investigation following Madeleine McCann’s disappearance from Praia da Luz in May 2007.
The team of detectives is under the guidance of Helena Monteiro and is believed to have started their review some weeks back.
Police sources say the case has been handed to Oporto detectives to allow for a fresh look by detectives who are close to the case.
The case was formally shelved in July 2008 by the Attorney-General who said the case would be re-opened should new evidence emerge.
Sources close to the case in Portugal have told The Portugal News that they support the Portuguese review in that they hope it will conclude “an investigation which was ended while still in its infancy.”
McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell told UK media: “Kate and Gerry obviously welcome the work being done by the PJ in Oporto alongside that of the Met investigative team. They clearly hope that it will lead to the case being reopened in due course.
“There is good co-operation between the Met and the PJ, and Kate and Gerry remain grateful for the time and resources that have been put into the search for Madeleine”, adding: “They will not be discussing any details whilst both the Met investigative review and the PJ work is continuing, but clearly it is a positive development.”
On 12 May 2011 the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) announced that, at the request of the Home Secretary, it had agreed to bring its particular expertise to the Madeleine McCann case.
The then Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, considered the request and took the decision that on balance it was the right thing to do. This was subject to funding being made available by the Home Office, as this case is beyond the MPS’s jurisdiction.
The MPS have reiterated on several occasions that Portuguese authorities retain the lead.
While the MPS will not provide a running commentary on its involvement, known as Operation Grange, it is felt appropriate to make the remit available to the public and it is available in the related publications.
It is estimated that Operation Grange has cost British taxpayers more than two million pounds and reportedly boasts 37 officials who are working on the review.
According to the remit, investigators are “to examine the case and seek to determine, (as if the abduction occurred in the UK) what additional, new investigative approaches we would take and which can assist the Portuguese authorities in progressing the matter.
Whilst ordinarily a review has no investigative remit whatsoever - the scale and extent of this enquiry cannot permit for such an approach.
It will take too long to progress to any ‘action stage’ if activity is given wholly and solely to a review process”, the MPS explained.
Madeleine McCann disappeared from Praia da Luz on 3 May 2007 from an apartment where she was sleeping with her younger twin brother and sister while her parents dined at a nearby restaurant.
Brendan de Beer