UPDATED 14.25 ON November 19
A PRIVATE detective hired by Gerry and Kate McCann is certain that Madeleine is alive.
Francisco Marco, who is based in Barcelona, also told a US television station that the net is closing on the youngster’s abductors.
The McCanns’ spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: “He’s very confident. He’s 100% certain that she’s alive and believes that they are ‘very, very close’ to finding the kidnapper.
“Naturally we are extremely encouraged by any indication by our investigators that things are going well. But there have been a number of leads that have come to nothing and Kate and Gerry remain cautious.”
The comments come after reports that Madeleine was seen in central Portugal two days after she disappeared from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz.
Mr Mitchell confirmed that a new sighting at an undisclosed location on May 5 was being investigated but added: “This is very much an ongoing inquiry by our investigators. We will not comment on individual sightings.”
The McCanns, both still official suspects in her disappearance, hired agency Metodo 3 to boost efforts to find their daughter.
Speaking earlier this month, Mr Marco said he thought Madeleine is alive in Morocco.
Mr Marco said: “We have a six-month agreement with the McCanns. We have already spent a month and a half working. I will find her before that period is up.”