Page last updated at 11:57 GMT, Thursday, 6 August 2009 12:57 UK

McCanns seek 'Beckham lookalike'

E-fit of 'Australian' woman
A witness said the woman was 'a bit of a Victoria Beckham lookalike'

Private detectives hired by Madeleine McCann's parents want to trace a "Victoria Beckham lookalike" with an Australian accent.

The woman is being sought because of something she said to a British man who met her in Barcelona 72 hours after Madeleine went missing.

Former detective inspector Dave Edgar said it was a "significant" lead.

Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, was three when she went missing from a holiday flat in Portugal on 3 May 2007.

Brief conversation

At a press conference in London, Mr Edgar and the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell went into more detail about the incident and also provided an e-fit of the woman they said was not a "suspect". Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann did not attend.

Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell describes the new suspect investigators are looking for

Two British men, who were part of the same group, saw the woman when they were drinking in bars in Barcelona's Port Olimpic Marina early in the morning on 7 May 2007.

She was said to be well-dressed but appeared agitated and kept walking up and down outside the El Ray de la Gamba restaurant bar, apparently waiting for somebody.

One of the witnesses, a 41-year-old British man, had a brief conversation with her in which she apparently thought he was the person she was scheduled to meet.

She said something to him which made the McCanns' private detectives think she may know something about Madeleine.

The principal witness, who spoke to the woman, said she was aged between 30 and 35, 5ft 2in and of slim build. She also speaks either fluent Spanish or Catalan.

She was last seen walking away towards a local hospital and more distant ferry and cruise ship terminals.

'Very credible'

Mr Edgar said it was possible Madeleine could have been taken to Spain by sea from where she disappeared in the Algarve.

"Madeleine most definitely could have got from the area to Barcelona by yacht," he said.

The former policeman said the main witness was "very credible", describing him as a professional man in a senior position.

He would not be drawn on why it had taken the man two years to come forward, only to say it was for "personal reasons".

Madeleine McCann
Madeleine was three when she went missing from a holiday flat in Portugal

He said: "We are satisfied that he is a very credible witness and the account he's given is clear and concise."

Mr Edgar would also not divulge the details of the conversation but said he had spent two days in Barcelona following up some lines of inquiry.

Mr Mitchell said Kate and Gerry McCann "neither get their hopes nor down" but they were "praying this was the piece of the jigsaw" that would help find Madeleine.

He said: "They are searching for Madeleine with every breath they have got. They will not give up until they find out what happened to her."

Mr Edgar and a second retired British detective, Arthur Cowley, were hired by the McCanns to continue the search for their daughter after the official Portuguese investigation was shelved in July last year.

The two former policemen have visited a number of European countries in the pursuit of leads.

This week Leicestershire Police said it had spent almost £750,000 assisting the Portuguese police in their inquiry.



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