Page last updated at 22:21 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 23:21 UK

Police to release Madeleine files

Madeleine McCann
Madeleine went missing on holiday in the Algarve

Leicestershire police have agreed to release files on the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann to her parents.

The release of evidence to Kate and Gerry McCann comes after the couple dropped a High Court bid to force it.

Leicestershire police stressed the pieces of information released did not represent fresh lines of inquiry.

Madeleine, of Rothley, Leics, went missing in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on 3 May 2007. She was three at the time.

The police decision to release the information comes after Portuguese media reported last week that the investigation would be closed because of a lack of evidence.

Legal challenge

The McCanns' lawyer, Tim Scott QC, confirmed that the released information related to telephone calls made to their solicitors and passed on to Leicestershire Constabulary's incident room during the early stages of the inquiry.

The force's chief constable has now agreed to provide contact details and a summary of the information provided by those early callers.

The material to be disclosed consists of 81 pieces of information out of more than 11,000.

I ponder whether that person has a conscience or any feeling of guilt or remorse... about the hurt that has been caused to an innocent little girl
Mrs Justice Hogg
High Court judge

A Leicestershire police spokesman said: "All 81 have been professionally assessed and the appropriate action taken, along with the 11,800 other pieces of information within the inquiry."

But speaking outside the High Court in London earlier, the family's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, described the information that the police had agreed to hand over as "potential new leads" that could help in the search for the missing toddler.

He said: "Kate and Gerry McCann welcome this compromise reached with the police. If we hadn't gone to court, we wouldn't have these 81 pieces coming in.

"That information now goes to our private investigators, who will work on it, all as a priority. Anyone of those could unlock the information that could lead to Madeleine being found."

James Lewis QC, for the police, said it was "vital" to balance the "understandable desire" of the McCanns to have as much information as possible against the risks of compromising the continuing criminal investigation, damaging future international co-operation and breaching Portuguese law.

'Come forward now'

Madeleine's parents were not at the hearing and Mrs Justice Hogg, presiding, said she had not requested their attendance because "they have suffered enough and I wished to ease their burden".

She urged anyone with information on the case to come forward.

"There is, of course, one person who knows what has happened to Madeleine and where she may be found," she said.

"I ponder about that person - whether that person has a heart and might understand what it must be like for Madeleine to have been taken and secreted from her parents and siblings and those she loved and felt secure with.

The McCann's family spokesman Clarence Mitchell outside the High Court

"I ponder whether that person has a conscience or any feeling of guilt or remorse or even cares about the hurt that has been caused to an innocent little girl, and whether that person has a faith or belief and what explanation or justification they might give to God.

"I entreat that person, whoever they may be, to show mercy and compassion and come forward now and tell us where Madeleine is to be found. I hope she will be found soon, alive and well."

Mr Scott told the judge there was no proof that Madeleine was alive, "but there is not a scrap of evidence that she is not".

Case 'shelved'

Last Tuesday, the Portuguese attorney general denied a decision had yet been taken to close the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance.

It followed Portuguese newspaper reports that police would "archive" or "shelve" the case, meaning they would no longer devote resources to investigating it, because of a lack of evidence.

Kate and Gerry McCann remain as official suspects - "arguidos" in Portuguese legal jargon - in the inquiry, along with a third man, Robert Murat.

If the case were to be closed, the McCann family spokesman said, their arguido status should be lifted "as a priority" and all the files of information held by investigators handed over.





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