Madeleine McCann parents 'frustrated' by lack of joint inquiry

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Media captionKate and Gerry McCann spoke to the BBC's Fiona Bruce

The parents of Madeleine McCann have told the BBC they are frustrated there is no joint British and Portuguese police inquiry into her disappearance.

Her mother, Kate McCann, said she also finds the slowness of the Portuguese investigation "distressing".

Madeleine was three when she disappeared in Praia da Luz, Algarve, seven years ago on Saturday.

Mrs McCann said she walks in that area every year to feel closer to Madeleine.

Madeleine's bedroom at the family home in Rothley, Leicestershire, has been kept exactly as it was when she went missing, her mother said.

"She might want to change it a bit now she's a bit older," Mrs McCann said. "It's absolutely the same."

'Look for answers'

Mrs McCann's visits to Praia da Luz take place once or twice a year, with the most recent being in April 2013.

"That's obviously the last place we were with Madeleine," she said.

"I'll still walk those streets and I guess try to look for answers. It helps me, most of the time."

She admitted she went "quietly" so as not to generate publicity which some local people "resent".

Image copyright Everton FC
Image caption Madeleine's 11th birthday is on 12 May

Scotland Yard launched a new investigation - codenamed Operation Grange - into Madeleine's disappearance last July, two years into a review of the case, and made renewed appeals for information.

A high-profile campaign run by the McCanns and the Portuguese police investigation had so far failed to locate the missing child.

Mrs McCann said she was particularly frustrated that police in Portugal had so far ruled out a joint inquiry with their British counterparts.

"As a parent, I find the slowness of action in Portugal really hard to take. I find it quite distressing," she said.

"Even though we're seven years down the line, waiting weeks or months, particularly for letters of request to be processed basically... it is frustrating.

"I suppose I do struggle with the fact. Please work together."

'Parallel investigations'

Mrs McCann said she had not been given a reason why a joint team had not been set up.

"To us, it makes sense that the two police forces should work together, to have a more streamlined approach to avoid duplication and basically to progress the investigation at a faster pace," she added.

Her husband Gerry said: "What is very, very clear is that there are lots of lines of inquiry and a lot of further work needs to be done in Portugal.

"The Met can only do so much with the information that they have."

Mr McCann said it was a "big step forward" that the Portuguese investigation had been reopened but admitted the bureaucratic process was causing delays.

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Image caption The McCann family was staying at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz when Madeleine disappeared

"The concern that we have, and I think also that the Metropolitan Police have, is that at the minute, there's almost parallel investigations going on, which doesn't make sense," said Mr McCann.

"We're not quite sure why there's resistance to the joint investigation team, because clearly resources in Portugal is an issue and this would be one mechanism by which they could have additional funding."

'Toughest day'

The seventh anniversary of the day Madeleine went missing from the McCann's holiday apartment will be marked with a small gathering in their home village.

They said they planned to celebrate Madeleine's 11th birthday later this month with their other two children, nine-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.

Mr McCann said: "It's really hard. She's not there. It's by far the toughest day of our year, every year."

The family still has a birthday cake for Madeleine every year, said Mrs McCann.

She added: "You think - 11, she's due to start secondary school in September. Which is just.... It's a long time."

Madeleine's younger brother and sister were described by their mother as "great kids".

"They really are wonderful," said Mrs McCann. "They've grown up with a big sister not being there.

"She's talked about frequently... we're a family of five, they've got an elder sister and they've handled it incredibly well."

Her husband added that the pair are "normal, happy nine-year-olds."

'Never give up'

The best-case scenario, said Mr McCann, would be if Madeleine had been "taken by someone who wanted a child" and has been "loved and cared for".

High-profile cases of missing women found years after they were taken, including Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight who were rescued from a house in Ohio last year, have given them hope, the McCanns said.

"If you're one of those people, then statistics mean nothing." said Mrs McCann. "It is real hope. We're not blinkered.

"We know what the statistics say. But we also know about all of these cases.

"For each one of those children, now women, that have been found, statistics would have said they were dead."

Asked for a message for Madeleine, her mother said: "We love you Madeleine. We miss you every day, as we did that very first day, and we're waiting for you.

"We're never going to give up. We'll do whatever we can to find you."

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