After all the ‘fears’ that Metropolitan police funding for the search for Madeleine McCann would finally run out, news coming in late yesterday was that it hasn’t.
The UK tabloid press is not giving reader commentary the free rein it has enjoyed in the past (click here), with the Sun, Independent, Telegraph and Mirror all refraining from the common practice of including space for outside remarks.
Only the Daily Mail seems to have given people a chance to say how they feel, and then only after comments have been moderated.
In Portugal, Diário de Notícias has ‘grasped the nettle’ and allowed readers to let rip.
It’s not pretty reading, but then it is also academic.
The €12.5 million search (it has actually reduced in value with the fall in the value of the pound) goes on, with the latest tranche of €175,000 (£154,000) due to take it through until March next year.
For that money Grange’s four-man team will continue investigation of the “last throw of the dice” announced 10 months ago, and described at the time as an “important new lead” (click here).
Back in December it was presented as a theory that Madeleine could have been stolen by “a gang of European traffickers” who had been taking photographs of her as she enjoyed a holiday with parents Kate and Gerry and twin siblings Sean and Amelie.
This week, the official line was that there is still “important work to do and focused lines of investigation to be pursued” (see update below).
A Met spokesman told the Daily Mail that Grange has “not reached a conclusion and we’re continuing with focus and determination”.
Grange has been running now for over six years. Madeleine McCann has been missing for over 10. Her 15th birthday is due in May next year.
Suddenly there is a “shocking new development” in the six-year investigation (reports the Sun newspaper), adding that “cops are hunting a person of significance”-
A source close to Grange has said that the person is “now a critical line of inquiry”.
A little further down the text, the significance of the shock is put into context by the source admitting that Grange’s interest is “as much to rule the person out of the inquiry as anything else”.
Perhaps the biggest shock came innocuously from the Times, and quoted by other news sources including the Sun and Daily Star, and Australian website news.com.au:
“It emerged in the British press overnight that the Scotland Yard probe has never quizzed the McCanns nor their friends who they dined with the night Madeleine went missing”, writes the latter.
“Met detectives have been relying on Portuguese transcripts of key interviews with British witnesses, and have never conducted their own.
“Former Met detective chief inspector Colin Sutton, said: “I would conduct fresh interviews with all the key British witnesses. We’re talking about interviews given by the McCanns and friends through an interpreter, written down in Portuguese and then translated back into English so officers from Grange can read them. The room for error would be enormous.”
In UK, the Daily Star interpreted the development with the headline: “McCanns and friends face new grilling…”