Page last updated at 10:33 GMT, Tuesday, 1 July 2008 11:33 UK

Police 'closing' Madeleine case

Madeleine McCann
Madeleine was on holiday in the Algarve when she disappeared

Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are closing the case, Portuguese media have reported.

Her parents Kate and Gerry McCann are both official suspects in the inquiry, along with a third man, Robert Murat.

But two newspapers claim the police have said they plan to close the case because of a lack of evidence.

Madeleine, of Rothley, Leics, was three when she disappeared in Praia da Luz on 3 May 2007. The family said they were awaiting confirmation of the reports.

The Correio da Manha newspaper said on Tuesday that sources within Portugal's judicial police said they "do not have sufficient evidence to allow formal charges to be brought against the McCanns in the disappearance of their daughter".

The Jornal de Noticias said the police did not have enough evidence to charge either the McCanns or Mr Murat with any wrongdoing.

"The police have not found the guilty," the paper added.

One newspaper said the case had already been closed, while another said the end of the investigation would be announced within the next few days.

McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell gives his reaction

The BBC's Alison Roberts, in Portugal, said reports suggested the case had been "archived" or shelved, meaning police would no longer devote resources to investigating it.

She said it could be reopened if new evidence emerged, but officers would not be actively working on it.

'Suffered enough'

The McCanns were declared official suspects - "arguidos" in Portuguese legal jargon - last September.

Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell told the BBC the couple did not know yet whether the reports were correct.

"If they are true, it's to be welcomed that Kate and Gerry are not to face any charges," Mr Mitchell said.

"It's quite right. They are innocent of any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance. They have suffered enough in this process.

"And surely the Portuguese authorities, if this is true, must lift their arguido status as a priority."

Mr Mitchell said the family wanted to know whether police now planned to stop searching for Madeleine.

Surely it's only humane and decent that information that could help find Madeleine comes to the investigators who will keep looking for her
Kate and Gerry McCann's spokesman Clarence Mitchell

If so, he said, all the information held by the police must be made public so the McCanns could carry on their own hunt.

"What happens to all those leads, all those contacts? There are thousands of pieces of information in those files," he said.

"What we don't want is that information to lie on a shelf somewhere gathering dust.

"Surely it's only humane and decent that information that could help find Madeleine comes to the investigators who will keep looking for her even if the police feel they can't."

The McCanns have their own "very sophisticated intelligence gathering operation", Mr Mitchell added.

Mr and Mrs McCann are due to go to the High Court on 7 July to ask a judge to order police files on the disappearance of their daughter to be released.

The BBC's correspondent said the period of judicial secrecy surrounding the case was due to end in August.

Briton Mr Murat lives with his mother in Praia da Luz close to the apartment where Madeleine was last seen. He strongly denies any involvement in her disappearance.

His lawyer Francisco Pagarete said he had heard nothing from the Portuguese authorities about the case being closed.

Asked whether he would welcome such a development, Mr Pagarete said: "Yes, we will, but it depends on the way it's going to be dropped.

"If it's going to be dropped because there's not enough evidence connecting my client to this case or if it's going to be dropped because Robert hasn't got any involvement in this case.

"Only the second way will make us happy."

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