An exclusive news story in the UK today claims British police are “baffled” as to why they are being kept on the seemingly endless Maddie probe, and want ‘out’ so that they can concentrate on the increasing threat from terrorism ‘at home’. “It is time to re-focus on what we need to do to keep London safe,” the Met’s federation chairman John Tully told the Daily Star. Newspapers have spared no space in criticising the “Operation Grange” inquiry set up in 2011, which has so far cost British taxpayers in excess of €12 million.
Not only have no solid leads transpired, officers working on the case have been barred from doing anything else.
Here, criticism has also centred on the fact that the Met “always turns up when the sun starts to shine”.
Thus today’s news will bring sighs of relief from holiday businesses that saw their start to last year’s season marred by battalions of police “digging for clues” at various sites around the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, from which Madeleine McCann went missing almost eight years ago.
Elaborating on police discomfort over the ‘exclusivity’ forced upon them by the Madeleine inquiry, John Tully told the Daily Star: “The Met has long been seen as the last resort for investigations others have struggled with elsewhere.” But it has been hit by “£600 million of cuts”, he added. “We have closed 63 police stations across London. Another £800 million of cutbacks are anticipated over the next four years” – and meantime the Met is having to cope with “14 unconnected killings across the capital since Christmas while fighting the war on terror”.
It is therefore “surprising to see an inquiry like the McCann investigation ringfenced”, he said. Ringfenced here refers to the 31 officers assigned to it being prohibited from working on any other cases.
“I have heard a few rumblings of discontent about it from lots of sources,” he told the paper.
“When the force is facing a spike in murder investigations it is not surprising there is resentment of significant resources diverted to a case that has no apparent connection with London.”
How much truth is behind this latest “exclusive” about the long-running mystery remains to be seen.
Portuguese media reported last week that the new head of Operation Grange, DCI Nicola Wall, visited Portuguese counterparts in Lisbon last week to “strengthen links” between the two forces.
No mention was made of any plans to shelve the British side of the investigation.