Madeleine’s father back in UK to plan continuing hunt for daughter

Author: By Ian Herbert in Praia da Luz

Gerry McCann left his wife, Kate, with the couple’s twins at the resort where Madeleine disappeared 18 days ago for a flying visit to Leicestershire and is expected to return tomorrow morning. The trip, which seemed more sensible to Mr McCann than flying a number of the Leicester-based campaign team to Portugal, was scheduled to deal with “personal matters”. It is thought that Mr McCann will also set matters in order to enable him and his wife to stay in Portugal for the foreseeable future. Mrs McCann said last week that she “couldn’t even consider” leaving Portugal at present.

The trip comes as Britain is being encouraged to follow Portugal’s lead and maintain a minute’s silence at noon for Madeleine.

Madeleine’s great-uncle Brian Kennedy told the Portuguese newspaper Correira de Manha that the deployment of British detectives was being considered by the family – though not immediately, out of “respect for the Portuguese authorities”. Another family member, Michael Wright, said last week that money from the Madeleine fighting fund might be diverted to “the detection process”.

The McCanns’ spokeswoman in Portugal indicated yesterday that the McCanns, who are said to be convinced that their daughter is outside Portugal, are prepared to leave Praia da Luz and travel around Europe to boost efforts to find her. “They are looking at everything and at what’s right. If it means going around Europe to meet people and talk to people then they will do it,” said the spokeswoman.

Mr Kennedy said that such a trip could take place if the couple “continued without any news for a few months”. The importance of deploying resources outside Portugal became clear at the weekend when police indicated that dozens of reported sightings of Madeleine – from Spain to Switzerland – were impeding the inquiry. A woman who reported seeing Madeleine in southern Spain last week said local police were not interested.

Although the McCanns have continually stated their confidence in Portuguese police, experienced detectives in Britain are astonished by some aspects of the unfolding inquiry and are willing to step in to help. Investigation of the main suspect, the Briton Robert Murat, has been haphazard, according to detectives.

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