Madeleine McCann inquiries: Met wants 'joint investigation team'

Madeleine McCann, holding several tennis balls, shortly before her disappearance Image copyright other
Image caption Scotland Yard began a review of the case in May 2011 and opened a formal investigation in July this year

The Metropolitan Police wants to set up a "joint investigation team" with the Portuguese authorities into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Met Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the force was seeking agreement for the team from the UK and Portuguese governments.

He said it would be more effective than the current "ad-hoc" approach to working together.

Madeleine disappeared from Praia da Luz, in the Algarve, in May 2007.

Last month, Portuguese police reopened their inquiry into the disappearance of Madeleine, who was three when she went missing from her family's holiday apartment as her parents dined at a nearby tapas bar.

Portugal's attorney general said "new elements of evidence" justified the continuation of the investigation, which was shelved in 2008.

That came a week after an appeal by British police, launched on BBC One's Crimewatch programme.

The BBC said the programme, shown on 14 October, had prompted 3,500 calls, texts and emails from members of the public,

Sir Bernard said he would like to see a joint investigation team, "which comes under the European community".

"It is a possibility legally and we're working together at a political level, and at a police and judicial level, to see how we can construct that," he said.

"There are two separate inquiries with a different focus - we've got one particular set of lines of inquiry and they have a different one.

"But it's important that we work together on what is clearly a common problem."

He said a new "formal arrangement" would allow "officers from each country to work in the other country - it gives them powers associated with that and it's an efficient way of doing it".

E-fits released

The senior investigating officer of the British inquiry, Det Ch Insp Andy Redwood, is due to provide an update on the Crimewatch appeal on the programme on Thursday night.

But BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said Det Ch Insp Redwood was not expected to release any major new information.

In the appeal, detectives released two e-fits of a man seen carrying a child in Praia da Luz at 22:00 on the night Madeleine, from Rothley, Leicestershire, went missing.

Thursday 3 May 2007: Timeline

  • 20:30 Kate and Gerry McCann leave their apartment to have dinner at a Tapas bar
  • 21:05 Gerry McCann checks on Madeleine and her siblings
  • 22:00 A man is seen carrying a child wearing pyjamas heading towards the ocean
  • 22:00 Kate McCann raises the alarm that Madeleine has gone missing

Clickable map and timeline

The programme, which was later repeated in the Netherlands and Germany, also revealed police now suspected she could have been taken later than previously thought - just before her mother returned to the apartment to check on her.

Announcing their new investigation last month, Portuguese police said a review team had been working since March 2011 to look back through information from the original investigation.

They said this had uncovered potential new lines of inquiry, which were separate from those being followed by the Met.

Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, said they hoped the new Portuguese inquiry would "finally lead to her being found and to the discovery of whoever is responsible for this crime".

Crimewatch will be shown on BBC One at 21:00 GMT on Thursday.

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