Maddie hunt “drastically” scaled back: “£10 million spent and nothing achieved”, says Sky News

News that manpower behind Scotland Yard’s four-year investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been drastically reduced is finding mixed reaction in the world’s press.

Sky News’ crime reporter Martin Brunt – who has followed the case minutely over the last eight years – said on camera this afternoon that it is a case of “£10 million spent and nothing achieved”.

Elsewhere, news channels are simply repeating the official statement put out earlier this afternoon, while social media is aflame with what many have labelled an exercise in PR spin and whitewash.

For now, Portuguese media has not indicated whether the truncated Operation Grange – reduced from 29 full-time staff to just four officers – is due to make any more visits back to Portugal.

The news comes in a week where, curiously, “Maddie stories” have yet again peppered the popular press.

As often happens before any kind of ‘serious announcement’, fluff pieces have surfaced and almost instantly disappeared.

On Sunday in UK, the Sunday People led with a long exposé on a man who took hundreds of photographs in and around Praia da Luz during the time Madeleine went missing, and who was long ago discounted as a person of interest despite the discovery of unrelated DNA in his holiday apartment.

These photographs are now being studied by Grange, Portuguese press has today confirmed.

Almost certainly tomorrow there will be further news this end as to whether new rogatory letters have been received and whether new interviews in Portugal will be forthcoming.

Tony Symonds of the BBC has tweeted that the remaining officers will be focusing “on a small number of definite lines of inquiry” – while the McCann family are quoted as having thanked police for the “meticulous and painstaking work that they have carried out for the last four-and-a-half years”, pursuing “disparate information across the world” and investigating “more than 60 persons of interest”.

What is intriguing in this latest statement is that news services and police are no longer talking about an abduction.

The investigation centres on “the disappearance of Madeleine McCann”, explained the statement put out by Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, and Sky News too refers to the case constantly now as a “disappearance”.

The McCann’s however continue to talk of “abduction”.

Speaking outside Scotland Yard this afternoon, the McCann’s press spokesman Clarence Mitchell said Madeleine’s parents were buoyed by the fact that they still feel there is no evidence to suggest their daughter “has come to any harm”.

The Met’s official statement came the very day the public appeal to raise money to help former Maddie detective Gonçalo Amaral in the legal fight instigated against him six years ago by the McCanns was temporarily closed down, having raised over €73,000 in six months – largely from people based in UK.

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