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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 October 2007, 07:26 GMT 08:26 UK
Madeleine police chief removed
Goncalo Amaral
Goncalo Amaral was removed after comments about the McCanns
The senior Portuguese police detective investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been removed from the case.

Goncalo Amaral was apparently removed after suggesting British police were working to her parents' agenda.

Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry, of Rothley, Leics, are official suspects in the case but have not been charged.

Their spokesman called for the inquiry to refocus on the hunt for Madeleine, last seen on 3 May in the Algarve.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, told GMTV the detective's comments suggesting the couple were calling the shots were "ludicrous".

McCanns 'co-operating'

"It's an absolutely ridiculous suggestion. It is a Portuguese-led inquiry and will remain so.

"And of course from time to time there is communication with Gerry and Kate as there would be in any police investigation.

"It is ludicrous to suggest that they have done anything like that."

Surely it is now time to for all of that nonsense [media speculation] to end and for the search for Madeleine to be re-energised
Clarence Mitchell
The McCanns' spokesman
Mr Mitchell said Mr and Mrs McCann were "more than happy to cooperate" with Portuguese authorities "whoever that might be".

This included going back to the Algarve for more interviews, he said.

But he called on whoever took over the Portuguese inquiry from Mr Amaral to "refocus" on the search for Madeleine, who disappeared from the resort of Praia da Luz.

He also called for an end to "unsubstantiated allegations" printed in newspapers in Portugal and Britain.

"Surely it is now time to for all of that nonsense to end and for the search for Madeleine to be re-energised," he added.

British media

Mr Amaral, who heads the regional Policia Judiciaria (PJ) in Portimao, was reported in the Diario de Noticias as saying: "The British police have been working solely on what the McCanns want and what suits them."

The police removed him after the comments were published, but reportedly gave no reason.

The PJ's national director, Alipio Ribeiro, told journalists at a conference in Lisbon that Mr Amaral's "commission of service has ceased".

Madeleine McCann
Madeleine went missing on 3 May in Portugal

The BBC's special correspondent Richard Bilton said the detective made his comments at the end of an interview in which he talked about the coverage of Madeleine's case by the British media.

The newspaper said he was reacting to a story which appeared on Tuesday claiming that Leicestershire police were investigating an email sent anonymously to Prince Charles's official website alleging that a disgruntled former employee had abducted Madeleine.

Mr Amaral reportedly accused the McCanns of releasing new information each day in a bid to distract and confuse the inquiry, our correspondent said.

The McCanns' lawyer, Carlos Pinto de Abreu, told a Portuguese radio station that Mr Amaral's reported comments were "chauvinistic".

British police have worked with the Portuguese authorities for parts of their inquiry.

Controversy surrounding the investigation of the case

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