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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 November 2007, 20:13 GMT
Madeleine police meet in Britain
Maddie poster
Adverts have gone up in Spain in the hunt for fresh clues

Portuguese detectives have met forensic scientists in the UK to discuss DNA samples examined as part of the Madeleine McCann investigation.

A spokesman for her parents said they do not see the meeting as significant.

The samples studied by the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham relate to materials taken from the car hired by the McCanns after the disappearance.

The meeting comes as a new advert blitz began in Spain that campaigners hope will lead them to Madeleine.

'Ongoing investigation'

A four-strong Portuguese team spent six-and-a-half hours at the Leicestershire Police headquarters in Enderby with Forensic Science Service specialists.

The summit was intended to give Portuguese investigators the chance to talk to the UK-based forensic scientists who have been carrying out various tests in the months since the child disappeared.

The Portuguese officers - who, according to reports, included Francisco Corte-Real, vice-president of Portugal's forensic crime service - were taken from the premises out of sight of the waiting media.

A Leicestershire police spokeswoman said they would not be making any statements.

Kay Francis, the FSS director of communications, added: "It's a live, ongoing investigation, therefore we cannot go into any details."

Representatives have travelled to the UK from Portugal before, in the early stages of the investigation.

Supporters of the family have used funds donated in the weeks after her 3 May disappearance to buy 80,000 worth of publicity that will cover the Iberian peninsula and northern Africa.

The money will pay for television, newspaper and poster adverts which they hope will produce fresh clues.

The fund has also committed to spend up to 50,000 a month towards the cost of the private detectives hired by the McCanns.

"This sort of work on both fronts - maintaining awareness of Madeleine and physically working to find her and her abductor or abductors - is exactly what the fund exists to support," said fund director Esther McVey.

A spokeswoman for Leicestershire Constabulary said the police meeting was not in response to any specific developments.

"It was felt that it was difficult to do everything on the phone. The time was right for them to sit down face-to-face," the spokeswoman said of officials in both countries.

The McCann's spokesman said they will not be reinterviewed as part of the Portuguese police visit.

"We do not see it as a significant development."


News of the meeting came as the McCanns, from Rothley, came under attack from the lawyer of Robert Murat, a suspect in the case.

Francisco Pagarete told a Portuguese newspaper said Mr and Mrs McCann "deserve to be cursed" for leaving their children alone.

He said his client is suffering from the negative publicity surrounding the case.

"[They] see their names daily dragged through the mud and they are on the verge of bankruptcy."

The McCanns have also been officially declared by Portuguese police as "arguidos" or suspects in their daughter's disappearance.


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