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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 June 2007, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
Petitioners want McCann inquiry
Gerry and Kate McCann
The McCanns are continuing to make appeals across Europe
An online petition is calling for the parents of abducted British four-year-old Madeleine McCann to be investigated by social workers.

It calls on Leicestershire County Council to look into the circumstances which saw Madeleine and her younger siblings left alone in a hotel room.

The council said it was "discharging our duties in... a full and professional manner".

The family has declined to comment on the petition.

'Even-handed approach'

Madeleine disappeared from a hotel room in Portugal on 3 May, while her parents, Gerry and Kate, were eating at a nearby restaurant.

Madeleine's uncle John McCann refused to comment on the petition when contacted by BBC News, but did say it was "not helpful".

Madeleine McCann
Madeleine McCann has now been missing for more than a month

The Leicestershire council statement said: "All agencies are acutely aware of the traumatic ordeal that the McCanns are experiencing."

The petition appears on a website which promotes "grassroots democracy".

The petitioners call on Leicestershire Social Services to "fulfil their statutory obligation to investigate the circumstances which led to three-year-old Madeleine McCann and her younger siblings being left unattended in an unlocked, ground floor hotel room".

The McCanns, who travelled to Morocco in the search for their daughter, have also made a trip to the Vatican to make a personal appeal to the Pope.

When questioned earlier about critical reaction to the family, Mrs McCann replied: "To be honest, I don't actually think that is the case.

"I think that is a very small minority of people that are criticising us."

On their return to the Algarve on Tuesday from Morocco, Gerry and Kate McCann of Rothley, Leicestershire, say they will have a period of reflection before deciding on their next step.

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